What Is the Legal Definition of Family in Canada

Family of four running through a field

Posted by heritagelawoffices on Mar 21, 2017 in Blog, Family Law

Families come in all shapes and sizes, so it makes sense that the legal definition in Canada reflects this. The current family definitions allow for inclusiveness of single-parent families, stepfamilies, common law or AIR unions, and more.

Census Family Definition

A census family refers to the following:

    • A married couple of opposite or same sex and the children, if any, of either or both spouses.
    • A common law couple (AIR) of opposite or same sex and the children, if any, of either or both partners.
    • A single parent of any marital status with at least one child living in the same home.

Note: All members of a census family must be living in the same home.

Definition of Children

The census family definition includes children by birth, marriage or adoption. There is no age limit as long as the child is living in the same home and does not have their own spouse, partner or child living in the home.

Note: Grandchildren living with their grandparent(s) but with no parents also constitutes as a census family.

Statistics Canada’s census family definition runs in accordance with the United Nations’ Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses’ family definition.

Economic Family Definition

An economic family refers to a group of two or more people who live in the same home and are related to each other by blood, marriage, common-law or adoption. Couples may be of opposite or same sex. Foster children are also included. By definition, all people who are members of a census family are also members of an economic family, but not all economic families qualify as a census family. For example: co-resident siblings would not be considered a census family, but would be considered an economic family.

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