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Common Law Relationships

Common Law Rights

In the Province of Alberta, couples living together in a committed relationship without being married are often referred to as being in a ‘common-law relationship’. Common-law partners do not have the same rights or obligations as married persons. The Matrimonial Property Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. M-8, the provincial law which governs the division of property of married people does not apply to common-law partners.

Common-law relationships are set out in the Adult Interdependent Relationships Act, SA 2002, c. A-4.5 The Act covers committed personal relationships between people that are not married to each other, where two people agree to share emotional and economic responsibilities.

Two paramount factors that define an adult interdependent relationship in the Province of Alberta are as follows:

1) An adult interdependent partner is a person who is involved with another person in an unmarried relationship of interdependence where they:

  • Share one another’s lives;
  • Are emotionally committed to one another; and
  • Function as a domestic and economic unit.

2) To be considered adult independent partners under the Act, partners must fall under one of three categories:

  • Living in an interdependent relationship for at least 3 years;
  • Living in an interdependent relationship of some permanence when there is a child of the partnership through birth or adoption; or
  • Entered into an adult interdependent partnership agreement.

Adult Interdependent Partnership Agreements

Two people who live or intend to live in an adult interdependent relationship may enter into an adult interdependent partner agreement at any time. Two people who are related to each other by blood or adoption must enter into a partner agreement in order to become adult interdependent partners.


  • A person cannot have more than one adult interdependent partner at one time.
  • A married person cannot become an adult interdependent partner while living with his or her spouse.
  • Individuals under 16 cannot enter into an adult interdependent partner agreement without consent of a guardian.
  • An agreement must be made without fraud or duress.

Terminating an Adult Interdependent Partnership

An adult interdependent partnership ends when any of the following happen:

  • The partners sign a written agreement stating that they intend to live separate and apart, without the possibility of getting back together (‘reconciliation’).
  • The partners live separate and apart for more than one year or both partners intend that the adult interdependent relationship end.
  • The partners marry each other or one of them marries or enters into an adult interdependent relationship with a third party.

Click here to get in touch with a Soby Boyden Lenz LLP representative for more information about common law rights. 

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