People use a lot of different terminology when describing their personal relationships. “Husband/Wife”, “Boyfriend/Girlfriend”, “Roommate”, “Family”, “Partner”, “Ex”, all could mean the same thing, or extremely different, depending on who you’re talking to.
In Alberta, we have one particular name for romantic partners and family members that live together in a ‘domestic’ or ‘marriage-like’ relationships, but are not legally married: Adult Interdependent Partners.
“Adult interdependent partners” are defined in Alberta’s Adult Interdependent Relationships Act as two people who live together in a relationship of interdependence, being:
– at least 3 years,
– of some permanence and less than 3 years, if the couple has a child, or
– who have entered into an adult interdependent partner agreement.
A “relationship of interdependence” is when two people:
– share in one another’s lives,
– are emotionally committed to one another, and
– function as an economic and domestic unit.
For example: Jack and Sue have been dating romantically for 18 months. They live together in Jack’s condo. Jack pays most of the bills because Sue has been on maternity leave and doesn’t have much money. Sue buys groceries and pays for dinners out. Next year, they will file their taxes as “common-law”. Their baby, Steven, was born this month. Jack and Sue would be considered “Adult Interdependent Partners”.
Another example: Amanda and Ally have been dating romantically for 7 years. They go to family events and vacation together. 3 years ago, Ally bought a house and they moved in together. Ally pays the house expenses and Amanda does all the cooking and cleaning. They are not sure if they will ever get married. Amanda and Ally would be considered “Adult Interdependent Partners”.
A third example: Sandra and her elderly neighbour, Doris, became good friends over the years and decided to move in together when Sandra’s lease was up. They have lived together for 10 years. Doris has some health problems and mobility issues. Sandra helps take care of her. Sandra and Doris split their living expenses. Sandra and Doris could be considered “Adult Interdependent Partners”.
If you are an Adult Interdependent Partner you could have important legal rights and obligations as a result of the relationship. This could include the right to receive or pay financial support, and to share property.
It is important to get legal advice about these relationships. You can enter into an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement and/or Property or Cohabitation Agreement with your partner, to make sure you are on the same page about your relationship and financial obligations.
To read more about the new property rules for AIPs in Alberta, see my next post here.