What is An Adult Interdependent Relationship?

young couple sitting on hill enjoying sunset

Posted by heritagelawoffices on Dec 1, 2017 in Blog, Family Law

We know – it’s a long, confusing phrase. But the good news is that you probably already know about Adult Interdependent Relationships, just by their former name of “common-law relationships”. In 2003, the Albertan Government introduced the Adult Interdependent Relationships Act, which effectively removed the usage of the term “common-law” from Alberta laws. Read on as Heritage Law explains exactly what an Adult Interdependent Relationship is, and how it benefits you and your partner.


People will use the term “common-law” to describe a couple that lives together, with or without children, but is not legally married. While this term is no longer used in Alberta, it is still used by other governments in Canada. An Adult Interdependent Relationship is Alberta’s modified version of a common-law relationship.

An Adult Interdependent Relationship can be defined as a relationship outside of marriage in which two people:

  • share each other’s lives;
  • are emotionally committed to each other; and
  • function as a an economic and domestic unit.

How Do You Enter An Adult Interdependent Relationship?

There are two ways you can enter into an Adult Interdependent Relationship:

  1. Enter into a written Adult Interdependent Partner agreement with another person.
  2. If you are not related by blood or adoption, either:
    1. Live with the other person for a minimum of three consecutive years, or
    2. Live with the other person for less than three consecutive years, but the relationship is of some permanence (i.e. a child).

Benefits of Adult Interdependent Relationships

The Adult Interdependent Relationships Act provides legal recognition of relationships between two people are not married; thereby giving them access to many of the rights, benefits and responsibilities that are afforded to married couples.

For example, those in Adult Interdependent Relationships are able to qualify for spousal support in the event of a relationship breakdown. Partners in an Adult Interdependent Relationship also now qualify for dependent status when settling estates, which means they can apply for relief in terms of a will or intestacy.

There are still many Alberta laws that are being amended following the Adult Interdependent Relationships Act coming into place. When considering any of the rights that are granted to married couples, it’s important to look into whether or not they also apply to those in Adult Interdependent Relationships.

If you have questions about adult interdependent relationships, don’t hesitate to contact the team at Heritage Law.