Common Law Separation

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Common law separation: Lawyers help you know your rights and obligations.

The court system in Alberta does not use the term “common law” when referring to a couple that is not married. Instead, in Alberta we use the term “Adult Interdependent Partners”, or AIPs. This term is defined in the Adult Interdependent Relationships Act, and is important for the issues of support and property division. This term applies equally to both heterosexual and same-sex relationships. Historically, this area of law contains both complicated and highly discretionary aspects. Because of this, unmarried couples but who live together often face uncertainty in respect of their legal rights on separation. They may not know if they even have any rights when they separate.

The law for common law couples relating to partner support fall under the Family Law Act legislation. The law for common law couples property division is set out by principles established in prior court decisions. Some of the laws are similar to married couples. Other laws are not. If a “common law” couple meets the definition of AIP, then the laws for their property division fall under the Family Property Act legislation. In that case, the law is the same for both married and unmarried couples. Here is our preparation guide for separation to help make the transition easier. If you need help, our family law lawyers in both Edmonton and Calgary help with all matters relating to the break down of common law relationships.

What Is A Common Law Relationship In Alberta

Each province in Canada has different rules for common law couples with regard to both support issues and property division. Common law separation falls under these laws.

In Alberta, cohabitating couples that meet specific requirements legally become “Adult Interdependent Partners” (AIP). The AIP classification applies to both support and property division issues. In order to qualify for partner support, you need to be an AIP. In order for the Family Property Act to apply to your property, you also need to be an AIP. The law considers you an AIP after three years of living together in a “relationship of interdependence”. The three-year time period is reduced if you have a child together and have been in a relationship of interdependence. You can also become an AIP by entering into a contract.

When addressing the issue of property division for couples that are not AIPs, we complete a contribution-based assessment. In this assessment we review what each party contributed to the relationship and property and what compensation or property division, if any, should occur now that the relationship has ended.

The Canadian Government has a different definition of what makes a common law relationship.

Property Division For Common Law Separation Splitting Up Property

If the parties have legal married status, an automatic entitlement exists for spouses to a share in the marital assets upon divorce. AIPs share that automatic entitlement. However, non-AIP couples that lack the legal married status lack an automatic entitlement to assets of the relationship if it ends. With that said, the law in Alberta allows non-AIP common law couples to make a claim for property acquired or increased in value during the relationship. Our family law team at Kahane Law Office has the experience necessary to assist individuals with their property division issues, whether the parties are AIPs or not. Our family lawyers can help individuals with a common law separation to understanding their rights and entitlements when they separate Learn more on common law property division on separation here.

Support Following Common Law Separation

The Family Law Act of Alberta sets out when non-married couples can seek support from their former partner. As set out above, to seek partner support you need to be classified as an AIP. To seek child support the other partner must be a parent of a child or standing in place of a parent. Kahane Law Office understands the dynamics of support issues in common law relationships. We also understand the entitlements and obligations of partners upon a common law separation. Call now for help if your common law relationship has broken down.

Settlement Negotiations For Common Law Couples

Common Law Separation can involve a great deal of negotiation. First, a sorting of assets must occur. Further, children must be provided for. Child support obligations must be put in place. Often this process requires even more negotiation than with traditional marriage breakdown. Our family law lawyers at Kahane Law Office negotiate for you skillfully. If you are going through a common law separation, we can help you reach an agreed settlement through negotiation.

The Process Of Common Law Separation

Consulting an experienced family lawyer when your common law relationship has broken down will help you understand the process and what to expect. Each separation is a little (and sometimes a lot) different and we respect that your situation is unique to you. Whether dividing assets of a common law relationship, or seeking support following a common law separation, we can help.

When To Hire A Lawyer

If you recognize that your common law relationship is breaking down, call us. It is better to get proper legal advice early in the process. This can save more expensive solutions to bigger problems if you make bad choices before seeking legal help. You can call at any step and retain us for a much or as little help as you require. You stay in control.

Hiring Our Lawyers For Your Common Law Separation

The family law team at Kahane Law Office understands the complexities of family law in Alberta for married, common law, and non-traditional couples. Let us help you understand your rights, and help you work toward a solution if your relationship has broken down.

To schedule a consultation with a member of our family law team to discuss your common law relationship, entitlements, and any obligations, please contact our experienced team at Kahane Law Office. You can reach us locally in Calgary at 403-225-8810, Edmonton at 780-571-8463 or toll-free at 1-877-225-8817, or email us directly here.