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Digest of the Week | Common Law Marriage

Woodill v. Tiller | 2019 NSSC 259 | Nova Scotia Supreme Court

Family law --- Marriage — Nature of marriage — Common law marriage

Parties were in relationship for eight years, but nature of relationship was at issue — Woman claimed that parties were never in common-law relationship, while man claimed that parties were in common-law relationship that gave rise to equitable claims on separation — Focused hearing was held to determine nature of parties' relationship — Considering and weighing all evidence, elements of cohabitation and factors in favour of common-law relationship, and credibility of parties and their witnesses, parties did not share common-law relationship — Woman was clear throughout relationship that she did not want to live together — Woman was independent, single mother who owned her own home and held down two jobs to make ends meet, and she had concerns with man's drinking and his attitude toward her family — Parties had long-term intimate relationship, but that did not make it common-law — Parties were engaged for short period, but woman concluded that she would not marry man, and engagement alone did not prove common-law relationship — Parties' relationship lacked permanency and commitment — Both parties maintained their own homes, they did not share assets or bank accounts, they did not share financial information, and they did not share living expenses — Man's evidence that he paid some of woman's bills fell far short of proof required to establish common-law relationship — Man helping woman with renovations where she paid for supplies was not evidence of common-law relationship — Parties had mutually beneficial arrangement, but that did not make it common-law — Adult children and grandchildren did not treat other party as family, and there was no evidence that families presented as blended — Evidence was clear that parties dated for long time, but they never established common-law relationship.
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