KNOW THE DIFFERENCE: Common Law vs. Adult Interdependent Relationship


Posted by heritagelawoffices on Feb 2, 2019 in Blog, Family Law

With diverse relationships and nontraditional living arrangements becoming the norm, there are more and more questions about the laws surrounding cohabitation. “Common law” is a household term for a couple that has lived together long-term but is not legally married. In Alberta, “common law” has been considered outdated ever since the Adult Interdependent Relationships Act that was put into law in 2003. Read on for more information about these terms in Heritage Law’s guide below!


While still used by other forms of government, Alberta law no longer employs the term “common law.” Once used to define a specific form of interdependent living, Alberta lawmakers put new rules were into place and new terms were adopted. Many incorrectly assume that they only need to live with someone for three years to become “common law,” gaining all the rights and benefits of a married couple. This simply isn’t true as outlined in the 2003 act that made “common law” obsolete and introduced adult interdependent relationships.


Thanks to the actions of Alberta lawmakers, partners who were once “common law” now have the benefit of and access to more equal rights as adult interdependent partners. Rights to apply for spousal support and official dependant status when settling estates are just two of the many nuanced ways that adult interdependent relationship laws protect people in these living situations. Such relationships and their members are considered carefully when under the eyes of the law, especially when entering into a formal document (“Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement Regulation”).

Are you unsure if you qualify as an adult interdependent partner? Does the term “common law” still confuse you? Have you signed any documents with the people you live with? The answers to these questions and others are important to your peace of mind– Heritage Law’s friendly staff is standing by to answer them all, professionally and accurately. Contact or visit us today!