What is Considered Common Law in Alberta?

What is Considered Common Law in Alberta

The term ‘common law in Alberta’ refers to unmarried couples living together. Since 2003, it has been called an Adult Interdependent Partnership. In an AIP relationship, you have some rights, but they are not the same as a married couple. Many of you may encounter difficulties when splitting up in your AIP relationship. So, if you are looking for a solution, you are in the right place.

In this article, we will explore these difficulties, give a solution for overcoming them, and learn the important things regarding the law and relationships

What is Considered Common Law in Alberta?

Common Law in Alberta means unmarried couples living together like a marriage. But in 2003, the law changed, and these relationships are called “Adult Interdependent Partnerships” (AIP) in Alberta.

Common Law recognized couples living together for a while or having kids together. If partners lived together for three years or more or had a child and shared a life, they were seen as Common Law partners. This means they did not have a legal marriage but were acknowledged in some legal situations

How to Prove Common Law in Alberta?

The easiest way to prove common law in Alberta is to sign an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement together. If you have no agreement, no worries. You can still prove Common Law in Alberta. Here is how:

  • You can use these as evidence if you lived together for more than 3 years or have joint bills or any leases related to assets.
  • Having a kid together, owning property jointly, or sharing finances big time shows deep commitment.
  • You can get any written statement from your loved ones, like your family, friends, or neighbors. It will help you to prove your Common Law.

Gather as much evidence as you can from different areas. Think about finances, living situations, shared activities, and social media to show as evidence to prove Common Law. The more you show, the stronger your case will be. 

Difference Between Common Law and Marriage

There are differences in how common-law relationships and legal marriages work in Alberta, Canada. They are different regarding what the law says and how they are formed. Let’s explore the difference in detail. 

Common LawMarriage
AgePartners must be at least 16Must be 18 years old (a minor needs guardian consent)
Marital StatusYou cannot get married or have another AIP contractIf you are currently married, you cannot be married to another person
PersonalPeople do not enter forcefully into this relationship.People enter voluntarily into this relationship.
PropertyThe property is divided between the parties as may be fair in all circumstances.Everything is divided equally during the marriage.
SupportEach partner may have an obligation to support the other financially. If they give birth to children, they must support the child financially.Each partner may have to help pay for the other’s expenses, and they will have to help pay for any children from the marriage.
RelationPartners can have ties to each other.Partners are not closely related to one another.

What Property Rights Do Common Law Couples Have in Alberta?

Dividing property can be tricky when common-law partners in Alberta decide to separate. Here is what you need to know about property rights:

  • Laws and Rights: There are rules about how property gets shared in Alberta when common-law relationships end. It is covered under the Family Property Act, which helps to decide who gets what.
  • Property share: There are things required when you live together. It might need to be shared when you split up. But it might not be a 50-50 split, unlike married couples.
  • Legal ownership check: They check who legally owns the legal property and how each person helped to buy or take care of it.
  • Agreement paper: You can agree before things go wrong. This document tells who gets what if the common law relationship ends. It is called a cohabitation agreement.
  • Court Decision: The court considers how long you have been together, what each person did for the property, how money was handled, and the consequences if there are kids.

Rights of Common Law Couples in Alberta

When considering the rights of common law couples in Alberta, these rights generally fall into two main categories:

  1. Legal rights granted to unmarried couples by legislation.
  2. Property rights can emerge based on each partner’s contributions to the relationship.

Therefore, Adult Interdependent Partners (AIP) have certain rights similar to married couples in specific situations. Let’s explore the specific situation and what you need to know.

  • Financial Support: AIPs might need to support each other financially, especially after separation or for children, similar to married couples.
  • Property Division: Assets acquired during the relationship might not be divided equally upon separation. Ownership and financial contributions matter.
  • Inheritance: If a partner passes away without a will, the surviving partner might inherit some belongings, similar to a married spouse.
  • Medical Decisions: AIPs might be allowed to make health decisions for each other if no other person is chosen.
  • Parental Responsibilities: Both partners share responsibilities for their children, irrespective of marital status.


Significant differences exist between common laws and marriage regarding age, property division, and support obligations. 

These couples have rights similar to married ones, including financial support, inheritance, and decision-making, but seeking legal advice is important to protect these rights. If you are in an AIP in Alberta, it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities thoroughly. If any circumstances arise, you can handle this situation independently, or if you need any expert help, you can seek help from a local lawyer.


Which States Recognize Common Law Marriage?

Common-law marriage is recognized in nine states: Colorado, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Texas. These states have laws that recognize the legal status of couples who live together as husband and wife without formally marrying.

How Do I Get Divorced After a Common Law Marriage?

There is no such thing as a “common-law divorce.” in Alberta. Couples who have lived together in a common-law relationship must go through the same legal divorce process as couples who were formally married. 

How Long Can We Spend Apart and Still Remain a Common Law Couple?

No specific time limit exists for how long common-law couples can spend apart and still be considered common-law partners. Factors like the relationship’s history, nature, and public perception play a more significant role.

Do I Have to Declare on an Immigration Application If I Have a Common-Law Partner?

Yes, you must disclose your common-law partner on your application for immigration to Canada. According to Canadian immigration law, common-law partners are family members and must be listed on the application.  

Do We Need to File Paperwork to be Considered Common Law for Immigration?

No formal paperwork is required, but you must provide evidence of a genuine and ongoing common-law relationship to be considered common-law for immigration purposes in Canada.

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