Common Law Spouses
Is Marriage Becoming Obsolete?
With the divorce rate hovering at around 40 per cent, more and more young people are turning away from traditional marriage. According to Statistics Canada, there is a significant trend towards common-law relationships among younger Canadians. The 2011 census shows an increase in the number of women living in common-law relationships, and that may have helped contribute to a drop in divorces among Canadians under age 50. Data from the 2011 Household Survey shows 11 per cent of Canadian women lived with a common-law partner, up from 3.8 per cent in 1981. The survey was done among 14 million Canadian women over the age of 15.
The authors of The New I Do, Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels, explain that traditional marriage is dying a slow death. Susan Pease Gadoua, a therapist and Vicki Larson, a journalist, discovered that many people have begun to create alternative marriage models. Some of the new styles of marriage they have uncovered include:
The Starter Marriage
According to the authors, this type of marriage arrangement is generally seen in couples in their 20s to mid-30s, who approach marriage as a time-limited agreement with the option to renew vows down the road.
The Parenting Marriage
Some couples are choosing to marry for the primary purpose of having and raising children, without the condition of romantic love. Other versions of the parenting marriage involve couples whose romantic relationship may have fallen apart, but who stay together for the sake of the children. The authors say this type of relationship only works if the relationship between the parents isn’t toxic and the couple is skilled at co-parenting.
The Living Alone Together Marriage
Couples in this type of relationship arrangement are married but do not live together full-time: some live in the same building, in the same city, or even across the country. This arrangement allows individuals uninterrupted time to focus on their individual careers and other priorities, but to engage in quality time when they do see each other.
The Safety Marriage
This type of relationship finds its roots in the original purpose of marriage as an economic arrangement between two families. Marriage comes with a lot of financial perks and a lot of rights, and many people take comfort in a financially secure relationship, with or without love.
No matter what form a couple’s marriage takes, the authors of the book believe that a couple should be very deliberate in spelling out their goals in a legal contract before they tie the knot, in order to establish a more transparent and open relationship.
If you have questions about marriage or prenuptial agreements, please contact family lawyer Jason P. Howie, online or at 519.973.1500.