The following characteristics must be present in all marital, common-law or conjugal relationships:
- You must have a mutual commitment to a shared life;
- Your relationship must be exclusive in that you cannot be in more than one conjugal relationship at a time;
- Your relationship must be intimate – commitment to sexual exclusivity;
- You must be interdependent – physically, emotionally, financially, socially;
- Your relationship must be permanent – long-term, genuine and continued relationship;
- You must present yourself as a couple;
- You must be regarded by all others as being partners.
As well, you must show that your financial relationship is joined. The following could prove this:
- Joint loan agreements for real estate, cars, major household appliances;
- Joint ownership of property; operation of joint bank accounts, joint credit cards; and
- The extent of any pooling of financial resources, especially in relation to major financial commitments.
Your relationship must also have social aspects that show a mutually shared life such as the following:
- Evidence that your relationship has been declared to government bodies and other institutions and accepting of such declarations by such bodies;
- Joint membership in organizations and groups;
- Joint travel;
- Shared values with respect to how a household should be managed;
- Shared responsibilities for children and shared values with respect to child rearing and willingness to care for the partner’s children; and
- Testimonials by parents, family members, relatives or friends and other interested parties about the nature of the relationship.
Lastly, physical and emotional aspects of the relationship must be present and the following will serve as evidence of the same:
- Knowledge of each other’s personal circumstances, background and family situation;
- Shared values and interests;
- Expressed intention that the relationship will be long-term;
- Extent to which you have combined your affairs;
- Support for each other when ill or on special occasions evidenced by letters and cards;
- Wills made out where each is the other’s beneficiary;
- Time spent together; and
- Time spent with one another’s families.