Alberta law has made provision for adult interdependent relationships, including adult interdependent partner (AIP) support. This is good news for unmarried couples who must negotiate when the relationship ends. Adult independent relationships now have legal rights and obligations similar to those of married couples. This makes negotiation less complicated by defining clear and fair expectations.
What Is An Adult Interdependent Relationship?
In Alberta, an adult independent relationship refers to what we often call a “common law relationship”. The Adult Interdependent Relationships Act defines an adult interdependent relationship as “a relationship outside marriage in which any two persons share one another’s lives, are emotionally committed to one another, and function as an economic and domestic unit.”
A legal adult interdependent relationship in Alberta is when both individuals in the relationship have:
- Lived together for three or more years;
- Lived together with some level of permanence, such as having a child together; or
- Signed an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement.
Adult interdependent partners can be platonic friends or relatives, and they don’t have to live together. Alberta law treats adult interdependent relationships similar to marriage, but there are some differences.
What Are My Rights In An Adult Interdependent Relationship?
An adult interdependent partner has similar rights to a married spouse. For example, under Alberta’s Wills and Succession Act, an AIP is a dependent with a right to the same inheritance as a married spouse when the partner dies. The Family Property Act grants the same division of property rights after separation to AIPs as to married couples.
What Is Adult Interdependent Partner Support?
Adult Interdependent Partner (AIP) support is the same as spousal support, but for adult interdependent partners. Alberta law allows AIPs to apply for AIP support when the relationship ends. The Family Property Act directs the division of property between AIPs the same as between spouses, unless they have an enforceable agreement that prevents it.
The purpose of AIP support is not to punish or reward partners. Instead, the objectives are to:
- Recognize the true economic situation of each partner during the relationship and after it has ended
- Minimize financial hardship as a result of the broken relationship
- Enable the partners to support themselves within a reasonable time
Who Is Entitled To AIP Support In Alberta?
Alberta courts evaluate each adult interdependent relationship individually. There are many factors to consider in determining the nature of the relationship and the requirement of AIP support. Some of these factors include:
- Nature of the relationship
- Living arrangements of the couple
- Household responsibilities of each partner
- Domestic arrangements (e.g. operating as a domestic unit)
- Existing enforceable agreements, such as an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement
- Provision in the partners’ wills
- Financial contributions of each partner to the well-being of the other partner
- Financial arrangements and jointly owned property (e.g. operating as an economic unit)
- Financial dependence
To qualify for AIP support, a couple must also prove they are in a legal adult interdependent relationship based on the criteria outlined in the Adult Interdependent Relationships Act (described above).
How Is AIP Support Calculated In Alberta?
The amount of AIP support Alberta courts award is based on several factors determined by Canada’s Divorce Act and Alberta’s Family Law Act. These factors include:
- The financial means and needs of each partner
- The length of the relationship
- The roles of each partner during the relationship
- The effects of those roles and the breakdown of the relationship on each partner’s financial position
- The care of children
- Any pre-existing enforceable order, agreement, or arrangement relating to support of either partner
Each situation is judged on a case-by-case basis to determine an amount of AIP support that’s fair.
How Long Is AIP Support Payable In Alberta?
The length of the adult interdependent relationship is typically the key determining factor in the duration of AIP support in Alberta. In most cases, the longer the relationship was, the longer the spousal support order will be. However, there are other factors the court will consider, such as a sudden job loss, making it impossible for a partner to continue AIP support payments.
Alberta’s legal guidelines suggest AIP support continues for 6 months to 1 year for each year that the partners lived together. If the partnership was longer than 20 years, or if the years of living together added to the support recipient’s age equal more than 65, AIP support may be ordered to continue indefinitely.
Legal Help for AIP Support
Because each situation is judged on an individual basis, having an experienced family law lawyer is highly recommended. Your lawyer can:
- Advise you on your rights and obligations
- Help you prove your adult interdependent relationship
- Draft or review an Adult Interdependent Partnership Agreement
- Present your unique case in the most effective way
The family law lawyers at Getz Collins and Associates deeply understand Alberta’s laws about adult interdependent relationships and have extensive experience with AIP support. Contact us today.