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Alberta

Common Law Alberta
As in all other provinces, couples living common law in Alberta have similar, but not the same, rights as married couples.

Adult Interdependent Relationship
In Alberta, common law couples are legally known as adult interdependent partners and are in an adult interdependent relationship. Whew, what a mouthful! There are basically three ways you can become adult interdependent partners:

1. cohabit for three year;
2. cohabit and have a child together; or
3. enter into an adult interdependent relationship.

An adult interdependent relationship ends when there is a separation of one year, or one of the parties marries or enters into a new adult interdependent relationship.

Property Rights
When a marriage ends, property division in Alberta is governed by the Matrimonial Property Act. This act only applies to married couples, not common law couples. So, there is no automatic right to property division when a common law relationship ends. Each party keeps what they own, and joint property is shared equally. If one partner is not satisfied with that result, they can apply to the court on the grounds of unjust enrichment, which is a lengthy and complex legal process.

Spousal Support
An adult interdependent partner in Alberta can bring a claim for spousal support under the Family Law Act. A married spouse brings a claim for spousal support under the Divorce Act, but for all practical purposes, spousal support under both pieces of legislation is the same.

Child Support & Child Custody
As in all provinces and territories, the laws relating to child support and child custody are exactly the same for married couples and common law couples in Alberta. Married couples are covered by the Divorce Act and unmarried couples are covered by the Family Law Act.

Estates
Under the Alberta Wills and Succession Act, a common law partner obtains the same inheritance as a married partner when someone dies without a will. Similarly this Act gives a common law partner the same right to dependents relief (basically child or spousal support from an estate) as a married partner.

When a married person dies in Alberta, the Dower Act gives that person’s spouse a dower interest in the home they live in (homestead). A dower interest means that the surviving spouse can live there for the rest of their lives. However, common law partners have no dower rights.

Cohabitation Agreement
If you don’t like how the law treats common law partners in Alberta, you and your partner can enter into a cohabitation agreement that sets out your rights and obligations towards each other.

Summary
By now, living common law in Alberta gives a person the same rights as a married person with the exception of property division upon separation and dower interests upon death.

63 comments on “Alberta

  1. Dennis Tkachuk on said:

    In a 4 1/2 year legal common law relationship and should it break down what are the (eviction rights) of the person residing in the same home but title in the name of the other partner.

    A/ Verbal
    B/ Written
    C/ Through a lawyer and the courts.

    Request a rely!

    • How do i get the house into my own name after a 3 year common law relationship? can we write up a seperation agreement ourselves? or do we have to go through lawyers and everything

      • I have been in the same situation after 7 years of common-law. The bank will have to approve your ability to take over the mortgage on your own. If you cannot, then you will need to either sell the property and divide up the debt/assets or come up with an agreement that will allow you to remain in the home until a settlement can be made. If you do qualify for the mortgage solely, then an agreement will need to be done up, possibly with the dower rights signed allowing you to register at Land Titles and for the bank’s records. The ex is still entitled to a payout if you take the mortgage over regardless of how long you have been separated, if an agreement is not finalized with a lawyer.

    • Rea Patenaude on said:

      We have lived In home under my name with my downpayment and some of the months he has paid half but mostly I have covered expenses and have gone into debt doing so. My question is can I give him notice to leave legally?

  2. Mike Harrison on said:

    I have a question not covered by the website.

    I’m divorced and pay my ex-wife a monthly amount of $1200 as set out in our negotiated divorce agreement. (She also enjoys other financial benefits from me which are not pertinent to this question).

    The agreement makes no reference to my obligation to continue paying her the $1,200 in the event that she chooses to move in with her current boyfriend, nor does it say I don’t need to pay her once she moves in with him.

    She has just informed me that she plans to relocate to his city, secure fulltime employment and live with him in his house. Her boyfriend owns his own home, mortgage free, and has held the same job for almost thirty years, so he is certainly stable.

    Must they live together for a certain length of time before my obligation ceases? And if so, how long? I can see the point of having a time period where the new boyfriend is concerned – his assests are protected for the first year or two. But why should I pay her ‘alimony’ when she is living ‘common law’ with another man who is capable of supporting her?

    Any comments would be welcome.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  3. ramelcita baquiran on said:

    this website is so informative..but i just have a question..Could it be possible to be in a common law relationship if both parties are not yet been divorce from thier spouses? thanks

    • Helen Banks on said:

      Yes Ramelcita, an individual can have both a spouse and an adult interdependent partner at the same time if they are not yet divorced and have been living with their new partner in a relationship of interdependence for at least three years, or have a child with their new partner or have a signed adult interdependent partnership agreement.

  4. Rosemary E. Lambert on said:

    My common law husband and I were living together for 2 years and one month before I confronted him with his infidelity. He brought me here from Ontario where I lived for over 50 years and then he decided after I spent all my money on him and his adult children t hat lived with him as well that he wanted to go back to his X wife after my money ran out. I went into debt buying 400.00 worth of groceries for them every week for over a year. Thousands of dollars were spent in other things for them as well only to have him discard me like yesterday’s trash. I ended up forgiving him and his X wife as I found out were never divorced only separated. I was brought here for the purpose of making her jealous and it worked. I was used then discarded. Do I have any rights what so ever or am I out here on my own with out any help. I am diabetic and can’t buy meds because I don’t make enough money. I feel lost and can’t cope. I need help and advise because I’m scared. He won’t help me at all. Can I make him at least give me a nominal amount so I can buy my meds for diabetes.?? Please answer asap…I’m afraid and alone

  5. Carolyn Markowsky on said:

    What happens when one person leaves a common-law relationship and gives up all material properties prior to entering said relationship, because of the agreed upon not needing of the extra properties. Can a person claim property division even though said person has no material properties of there own (outside of personal necessities)?

  6. Tammy Stewart on said:

    My finance and I have been living together for 5 years. 3 days ago, he has asked me to move out (his 15 year old son, who came to live with us 2 years ago, doesn’t like me and causes many problems in our relationship) The house and property is in his name. We have both spent thousands of dollars over the last 5 years towards renovations and property improvements. My question is…can he legally just kick me out of our home or do I have any rights at all? Thank you.

    • Helen Banks on said:

      Tammy, you more than likely will be the one who has to leave – not only is the house in his name but he has a child residing there. If you don’t leave willingly, he can likely obtain a court order for exclusive possession. However, it sounds like you may have a claim for unjust enrichment because you improved the value of his house so dig out your receipts for the money you put into it.

  7. Andrea Ritchie on said:

    How do I begin and file for support from my partner of 7 years? He assaulted me and was charged by the RCMP. we operate and ran a business toghether due to a no contact order he has chosen to operate this business. I cannot collect EI and all our property is in his name. All my funds have been put into what i believe was our business and I am up a creek without a paddle so to speak. Any guidance would be appreciated. Thank you. Andrea.

  8. katrina on said:

    Can my husb divorce his common law partnernin Edmonton.will it took for how mny mnths waiting?aftr that how can my husb get me and kds even if he file dvorce on me,im frm philippines,tnx

  9. Carla on said:

    If my boyfriend and I have been living together for three years, and he has a 12 year old daughter (he is primary parent), am I considered her legal guardian?

  10. Moyra on said:

    Were marrird for 2 years, split for a couple of months, then startd living together for 15 years. My x refused to pay child, section 7 expenses, spousal support and divide assets and penions. I have taken him to court requesting documents, undertaking, etc for 15 years, and he has put every block in place that is possible. Now, he takes me to coury on Rule 4.33-1 and wins on dismissing the claim where it states he owes me all of this and gets the CLP off our house which is now under his name.
    He only gave me 5 days to prepare which was not long enough to get all the doments made into exhibitis for my affidavit. He purged himself in court, me saying one thing, him saying another and the judge didnt let me show anyy documents and granted his wish. This means I DON’T GET the prope share of our house, assets, pensipn, cpp, shared, mutual -I lose everythin from 16 years of marriage! This is not right Rule 433-1 needs to accept e-mails, him not willing to give necessary documents sonwe could make a settlement.
    The law of Alberta is soppose to protect us! It need nothing but let my x manipulate and screw me around for another 15 Years! This is ridiculous! So I dont believe Commo Laws have any rights! Thanks for listening -if you have any recommendations pls let me know! Thks

    • Alberta’s Adult Interdependant Act is NOT fair. I Went through a 15 year common law relationship (resulting in 2 children) and in the end, I was only entitled to 33%, according to the way unjust enrichment claims are settled. Then the ex claimed exceptions on top of that, so in the end, I end up with 22%, and no spousal support. I just feel sick about the whole thing.

  11. Laurie on said:

    How do people enter into an adult interdependent relationship?

  12. Deena on said:

    I was common law, we owed a home together. ( I have been paying for the home soley for 16 months)
    He left and now 16 months later is sueing me for 70,000$ equity.
    His lawyer won’t acknowledge the money’s I have contributed my such as taxes, 10,000 in mortgage payments soley ect…
    His lawyer also states the there is a law of property act – where I owe him occupational rent.

    There has to be a law somewhere that would protect me the owner the responsible party that took care of my home finically, the upkeep & maintenance.

    I need help. My lawyer is not of much help @300$ an hour.

  13. Doris Simpson on said:

    Has the common law in Alberta changed in regard to property division??? If the it is owned by one person.

  14. I have a question I was wondering if you can answer. My common law partner and I have been together for 8 years and he has not yet gotten a divorce from his ex due to financial reasons and they haven’t been together for 15 years. Is his ex still entitled to pension or anything like that if something were to happen or would our child and I.

  15. Thanks very helpful

  16. Judith Cameron on said:

    Can a woman under the age of 18 years living with her partner be considered a common law partner; especially when they have a child together? Father is 20 yrs and mother is 17 years, child is 6 months old and they have been living together for over 1 year already. Thank you!

  17. Tafena Pierce on said:

    How long do you have to live together, before you are classified as common law?
    My ex and I lived together for a year before we up and moved out my home town, now we have been living in our current home for 6 months and he has decided he no longer wants a relationship.
    He made me leave my home, quit my job and burnt my bridges along with it, because he wanted to move so fast. My name is not on the mortgage, so I am literally being left with nothing.
    I would like to know if I am entitled to anything, and if so what my rights are and how to go about this whole situation.
    THANKS!

  18. Mike Clement on said:

    My wife and I have been seperated over a year but not divorced yet. My wife has been living common law for over a year in Ottawa. If I move from Ontario to Alberta, will I still have to pay her spousal support?

  19. Jamie on said:

    Can the biological parents apply for common law if they are living apart due to work location

  20. Aaron on said:

    I am going through a separation with my common law spouse. We were together for 4 yrs. She left July 19, 2012 following an affair she had. She has left all her property behind. She hired a lawyer in September 2012 in attempts to obtain the house we co own together. Now she is not willing to respond to her own lawyer to resolve the matter. Is there a certain time frame in the legal world that she is still entitled to joint property vs. no longer being entitled to it. In the time that she has left, she has not contributed financially to any of the property.

    Thank you,

    Aaron

    • I lived common law for 6 years,from 2001- 2006 I had to move out, because we were having problems with his children, he needed to sort things out, we kept our relationship open with each other (physically), we were hoping we could work things out but he is just been now putting reconsiling off. I contributed to the relationship financially, physically & mentally. with these 6 years trying to reconsile, its not working, am I entitled to a portion i contributed to the household?
      thank you
      K.

  21. Vera rehash or on said:

    I don,t know if you can answer this question for me or not .My daughter is now living with a guy who was living in common law for 8 years and his common law spouse is now filing for spousal support and child support. My question is will my daughters income be affected as she and the other man involved in this is now living with her thank you

  22. Love Joy Olidan on said:

    I’m in a same sex relationship for 4yrs now, i’ve been to canada for almost a year. How can i change my status from single, and declare that i have a common law partner? Thanks and God Bless.

  23. Keenan on said:

    Just wanted to let you know of some errors.

    Alberta

    Common Law Alberta
    As in all other provinces, couples living common law in Alberta have similar, but not the same, rights as married couples.

    Adult Interdependent Relationship
    In Alberta, common law couples are legally known as adult interdependent partners and are in an adult interdependent relationship. Whew, what a mouthful! There are basically three ways you can become adult interdependent partners:

    1. cohabit for three year;(years)
    2. cohabit and have a child together; or
    3. enter into an adult interdependent relationship.( agreement ) ?

  24. miroslav on said:

    Me and my girlfriend are living together 3 months, now we are engaged, are we consider as common-law relationship ?

  25. Kellie on said:

    Hey there,
    I just want to clarify when you are considered ‘common law’ when you live together.
    Thanks

  26. hi i am wondering if you can send me info on commonlaw breakups. i have child custody and she wants me to pay her spousal support as well as giving half of everthing. she worked maybe 3years out of 20 together and i raised her 2 children without much helpfrom there Dad. really just looking for what i would be responsable for. thanks Jamie

  27. Kelley Gardner on said:

    My common-law partner, moved from B.C. in 2009 where he owned property with his ex-wife who has since passed away. He moved in with me in my home in Calgary and I paid all the bills and mortgage, etc. After 2 yrs he purchased a home in Red Deer and I sold my house in Calgary and moved to Red Deer. At the end of Jan/13 he went to South Korea to work overseas and I stayed in our home in Red Deer and tried to keep in touch, however, towards the end prior to his return to Canada, ( he was supposed to have a break at 3 months, it was extended to 6 months) he was being rude and telling me not to pick him up at the airport, etc. when he did get back, he showed up at our home when he thought I wouldn’t be there. I was, and we talked. We were intimate, however, he said he wanted to end our relationship because he decided to work over there for the next 3 or 4 yrs. he said I could stay in the house, i have been looking after and maintaining it for the last year and a half now. I have asked for nothing from him, however, I don’t believe he should be able to kick me out of my home. I don’t know where I stand. The house is in his name, but he wants to be non-Canadian citizen status for tax purposes. I believe that he will transfer the ownership/title to his 36 yr old son. He has told me I have to be out of the house by Oct 31/13.

  28. johannes on said:

    I have a friend that was in a gay relationship with another man for about 15 yrs. My friend helped him with his house properties such as collecting rent, shoving walks and minor repairs. His partner died about 8 months ago and the will left the income propreties and their personnel dwelling to his relatives. Does he have no entitlement to his home of 15 yrs let alone the rental propreties. Many of the other man’s relative are just coming over at their discretion and taking things that they bought together. Does he have any rights to these propreties?

  29. I have a few questions,
    My comonlaw boyfriend and I (we lived together for 6+ years), bought a house together in 2011(2 years ago) both our names are on title and property, are we able to asset divide is this just a case of one or the other needs to buy the other out to keep the home? or just sell and splitthe reamining leftover cash once debt is paid off.

    As well, we both qualified under the First time homebuyers act when we made the purchase, no as we sepearate are we able to requalify for the first time homebuys are individuals rather then a couple as we did so previously?

    Thank you

  30. Al Price on said:

    Is it possible to claim common law status if you are still legally married but have been legally separated for more than 20 years.
    Thank You

  31. Hi i just arrived in Canada last June 2013. My sister sponsored me thats why im here. im from the Philippines and i have a Gf back then. Is there any other that I could probably get her. We’re not married though we’ve been together for a year before we separate. Can I apply her as my common law. and may I know whats the requirements? Thank you

  32. We bought a house (title is in my name, and I made the down payment) but he co-signed the loan and makes 1/2 of the mortgage payment. We have been together for almost 4 years, he has been divorced from his first wife for about two. I want him to leave but he won’t move out and wants to continue the relationship in spite of the difficulties until the place is sold, which I find intolerable. If I leave do I lose any rights to the property? There is no communication left and I am terribly frustrated. Can I leave temporarily, sort of giving him notice to find a new home, and still retain the rights to my property? Because he co-signed the mortgage loan (which comes up for renewal in a few months) does he have a right to force me to sell, and if we sell, will he get any portion of the money that I used to make the down payment on the property? Further does he have the right to remain on the property (as a tenant or “roommate”), and if I leave will I be required to continue to pay my share of the mortgage. I am desperate for answers as I don’t know which way to turn.

    • Helen Banks on said:

      Your down payment is exempt, meaning that if you sell the house, you will get that back “off the top” and then the rest will be divided equally – or you can buy him out if you prefer. You will not lose your property rights if you move out but if you want him to move instead, you will probably need to make an application for exclusive possession as it sounds like he isn’t going to go otherwise. Unless it is really stressful living there, I recommend that you file and serve an application him instead of moving out yourself and go to the bank to see if you can refinance as he is entitled to his share of the equity (if any).

  33. Anonymous on said:

    My boyfriend and I have been together since March, 2012, and have been living together since August, 2012. He has recently expressed that he no longer desires to remain in a relationship and proceeded to inform me that I have 2 weeks (the duration of his current work rotation) to leave. I have been dependent on him since moving to Alberta in 2012. I’m originally from Nova Scotia, have no family in this province/no other place to go, and would be forced to move back there. I am questioning whether or not I am entitled to anything (financial support, help in order to return to NS, etc) and/or if he’s able to evict me if I’m unable to leave within the above mentioned time frame? Thank you for taking the time to read this and please help if you can.

    • Helen Banks on said:

      Does he own the place where you live or do you rent? He will have more rights if he owns it and you are not on title.

      You may be entitled to some partner support at least on a short term basis. You will need to file a Claim under the Family Law Act.

  34. Jacalyn on said:

    I have been living in my house for 6 years with my boyfriend who is still legally married.I he entiltled to anything from me?

    • Helen Banks on said:

      To be honest Jacalyn, your question is a bit vague. What do you mean by “entitled to anything?”. Are you splitting up? Whose name is the house in? There is no such thing as matrimonial property if you are not married but if he has contributed to mortgage payments or renovations he may have an unjust enrichment claim.

  35. Pingback: To common law or not to common law?

  36. Serri Windle on said:

    Hello, My boyfriend wants me and my children to move in with him. As much as I love him, I also know how relationships often end. Because the house is in his name, if we broke up would he have to give us reasonable time to leave the premises or would he be able to kick us out onto the streets that day if he chose too? Thanks so much:-)

  37. Where can I find a common law speration agreement on line. It seems that all the seperation agreements are for married couples which do not apply for common-law couples.

  38. Hi,
    Just a question. I have a girlfriend and she lives out of the country. We both love each other very much. She here on a student visa and about to expire soon and I don’t want to get marry to her. We are living together as a common law because I do not follow marriage. I want her to stay with me (She been living with me for 3 years) and she has been renewing her student visa but this time it has been decline because she has finish her study. Is there a way she can live in Canada with me permanently as a common-law?

  39. Im wondering if you leave your common law spouse how long do you have to be apart for them not to be able to Go to court. Nothing there is nothing in the other persons name and they did have separate income? Thanks.

  40. Denny on said:

    I would like to enquire on child support payments. After the death of a spouse who was paying child support monthly it has been determined by the estate lawyer that these payment must continue and be managed by the appointed executor from the estate until the age of 18 (children), depending of course on the available funds coming out of the estate. Do these payments continue after the surviving spouse recieving the benifits is in a new common law relationship with plans to get married and living with the new partner in a houlse they purchased together? They also have a substantial income between the two of them.
    I appreciate your time and feedback.Thank you.

  41. Debbie on said:

    I have been in a commonlaw relationship for 5 years, recently my partner has passed away. He had alot of credit card debt as well as personal loans, who is responsible for the debts? All the accounts are in his name, I am waiting for the death certificate to send to the creditors.

  42. jaden on said:

    I have been in a relationship with my spouse for 4 years , living together for 2 . He recently passed away but his benificary on his life insurance is another person. will common law act the same way as a marriage when dealing with life insurance in Alberta ? he has someone else listed but I’ve read that if you have a spouse , they would recieve the life insurance before the named benificary .

  43. Yolany on said:

    My boyfriend and I move in a year ago, we have a child. my questios is: after how long are we consider as a common law couple for the Canadian goverment? (for taxes porpouses)

  44. Jessica on said:

    My boyfriend and I just bought a house together. My apartment lease was up in March 2014 and I have been living with him ever since. I was wondering now that we bought a house together with both our names on the mortgage will that mean we are now common law?

  45. I got my permanent resident here in Canada, and I have a boyfriend in our country, when I got my vacation last time I never expected that I will get pregnant when I came back here in Canada. My question is my boyfriend was married before last 2012 after months 4 of marriage they separated and doesn’t have a communication to each other, . He’s planning to get an annulment , but in our country it will take years to grant it. Both parties wanted to be separated. There is also a law in our country that if man or wife separated for a longer years (5 years) without any communication at all ,the man or the wife will file an annulment easily , I think they called it abandonment. The question is how may I able to bring my boyfriend here with me so that we can start our family? Can we declare a common law? Can he apply a tourist visa to visit me and our baby here and can he possibly apply for a job here so that we can be together? Once he’s got here , can we got married even his annulment is on process in our country?..thank you

  46. Vanessa on said:

    I am a Landlady and became involved with a tenant, but she and I agreed to keep the tenant contract in tact. Am I in danger of becoming common law if the tenant agreement is in affect? Does the law differ in anyway with lesbians?

    -Thank you,
    Vanessa

  47. Randi on said:

    i have a question me and my ” Common law ” have been living together for 8 months now and i am trying to apply as a sponsor for him to become a refugee here in Canada. What is the legal amount of time that we have to be living together to classify us as “Common Law”

  48. Aocheng Liu on said:

    Hi I just want to ask a question, if my common law partner close our joint account sneakily and didn’t tell me and let me know. Is that illegal or not ?

    Thanks

  49. Adult Interdependent Relationship
    In Alberta, common law couples are legally known as adult interdependent partners and are in an adult interdependent relationship. Whew, what a mouthful! There are basically three ways you can become adult interdependent partners:

    1. cohabit for three year;
    2. cohabit and have a child together; or
    3. enter into an adult interdependent relationship.

    An adult interdependent relationship ends when there is a separation of one year, or one of the parties marries or enters into a new adult interdependent relationship.

    if anyone of the 3 applies to your situation the author is saying that you are in a “common law relationship” in alberta

    whom ever has the MAIN/GENERAL child custody is entitled to maintenance for taking care of the child

    cohabit means living together under the same location as the partner in question.

    first variable is “3 YEARS” not months… example… “you can have a 60 year relationship with a person but if you
    LIVED with that partner for less then 3 years and had no children together you are not common law yet”

    second variable is “HAVING A CHILD” together while cohabiting my assumption is that it can be LESS then “3 YEARS” because “CHILD” is considered the main variable.. example… “you have been dating this other person for a month and you both found out that she is pregnant and gave birth to the child 9 months later so you have been living with the person for 10 months approximately together that is considered common law because of the (child)”

    third variable has been clearly explained already there should be no qualms about it.

  50. jennifer on said:

    how long after a year and a half of being in a common law relationship living together with no children does does the other partner have to o leave if being asked or kicked out 123 months by law how much time does he have to leave and find a new place

  51. Kelsie on said:

    I met my boyfriend online sometime in March/ April of 2014. He lives in Alberta, Canada and I live in Iowa, United States. I’m going to be moving in with him November, 2014. I’m understanding we have to live together for 3 years before we are considered common-law partners or am i understanding incorrectly? Also, what is considered a conjugal relationship? I’ve read that it is a couple that can’t live together yet I have read that you can be in a common-law relationship if living together in a conjugal setting? All this stuff is so confusing!

  52. My ex left our joint home 2 years ago, we were not married. When we bought the house her parents gave her (in her name only) $25k towards the house. Now she wants either her name off the mortgage or me to sign it over to her. She said whoever keeps the house has to sign an agreement that that person owes her parents the $25k. The house has decreased in value so even to sell, neither of us would make a profit. How do I get her off without this ‘agreement’?

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