We are often asked when two people who are in a relationship, living together, but not married become common law spouses. In Alberta, common law spouses are called Adult Interdependent Partners (“AIPs”). The circumstances in which two people are considered AIPS come from Section 3 of the Adult Interdependent Relationships Act, SA 2002, c A-4.5 and are as follows:
A person is the AIP of another person if the person has lived with the other person in a relationship of interdependence
- For a continuous period of not less than 3 years;
- Of some permanence, if there is a child of the relationship by birth or adoption, or
- The person has entered into an adult interdependent partner agreement with the other person.
Essentially, a relationship of interdependence is a prerequisite to being an AIP of another person. If this threshold is met, then the two individuals must have also lived together for at least 3 years, lived together and have a child together, or the individuals must have entered into an adult interdependent partner agreement.
The Adult Interdependent Relationships Act also provides factors to help determine whether two people have met the prerequisite of having a relationship of interdependence (see Section 2):
- Whether or not the persons have a conjugal relationship;
- The degree of exclusivity of the relationship;
- The conduct and habits of the persons in respect of household activities and living arrangements;
- The degree to which the persons hold themselves out to others as an economic and domestic unit;
- The degree to which the persons formalize their legal obligations, intentions and responsibilities toward one another;
- The extent to which direct and indirect contributions have been made by either person to the other or to their mutual well-being;
- The degree of financial dependence or interdependence and any arrangements for financial support between the persons;
- The care and support of children; and
- The ownership, use and acquisition of property.