Marriage and Dependants Defined

If you are in a household with a partner and/or children, ensure that each family member’s status is up-to-date with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or Revenu Québec, depending on where you live. Keeping the taxman up-to-date is especially important when a life event occurs (such as your marital status changes or children arrive or leave home). Check the CRA website (and Revenu Québec, if applicable) to investigate what benefits, credits or deductions may be available to you and your family.

Marital Status

CRA and Revenu Québec want to know your marital status. If your status changes, update your profile. Do it immediately if you are entering a relationship and are entitled to any government payments, or after 90 days of separation from your spouse/partner. CRA uses the following categories to define marital status:

  • Spouse: a person to whom you are legally married.
  • Common-law partner: not your legal spouse but the person with whom you are living in a conjugal relationship and at least one of the following applies:
    • Both partners are of the same-sex or opposite-sex.
    • The conjugal relationship has been in place for at least 12 continuous months (three years in Quebec).
    • You’ve had a child together (birth or adoption).  In Quebec, after 12 months, if you’ve had a child.
    • Your partner is supportive and has custody and control of your child.
  • Separated: once you have lived separate and apart from your spouse or common-law partner for at least 90 days due to a relationship breakdown.

For the last point, separated, it should be noted that this is not applicable if the separation is for work, school or health reasons. It should also be noted that formal separation will impact child and family benefits.

Spouses and common-law partners are required to enter each other’s personal information on their annual tax returns.

Definition of “Dependant”

Having dependents will affect your tax profile. A dependant, whether by blood, marriage, common-law partnership or adoption (legal or in fact) may include:

  • Your child, grandchild or sibling (either under 18 or if older, mentally or physically infirm)
  • Your parents or grandparents
  • In Quebec, the definition also includes nieces, nephews, aunts, and uncles
  • A person meeting these requirements who is financially dependent on the supporting person
  • A person meeting these requirements who normally resides with the supporting person; exceptions include living away from home while attending school