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Define AIRs: Adult Interdependent Relationships

Posted by Graeme Maitland — filed in Family Law

In 2003 the Government of Alberta passed the Adult Interdependent Relationships Act which allowed for legally recognized partnerships between two people outside of marriage.  This Act formally recognized and codified traditional common-law relationships with “Adult Interdependent Relationships” (AIRs).  For a relationship to be covered under the Act, it requires the two to have lived together for at least three years and be financially interdependent.  If there was a child of the relationship, it could be a shorter period of time.

The Benefits

There is no section in the Act that expressly states what being in an AIR gets you, it simply defines who is in a AIR.  Instead, the rights and obligations of AIR are found throughout other pieces of legislation.  So, by looking in other acts like the Family Law Act s. 1(n) or the Wills and Succession Act s.1(a), the rights and obligations of an AIR are clearer than when it was undefined.

There are two important notes when it comes to talking about AIRs.  The first is that, the Federal government has a different time period for its definition of “common law”. It states people are common law after one year. That is what is relevant for all matters regulated by the federal government, such as tax laws.

The second thing is that there is NO regulation in Alberta for AIRs (or common law partners) for property rights upon the breakdown of a relationship. In particular, only legally married persons are covered by the Matrimonial Property Act.  The Family Law Act deals with children, custody/parenting, access, and support obligations but not property rights. Property rights for AIRs are still dealt with by the common laws of estates, a collection of cases that determines when there is an unjust enrichment.

The Restrictions

There are only two restrictions in the Act.  A person cannot have more than one adult interdependent partner at the same time and a married person cannot become and adult interdependent partner while living with their spouse.

There is no “relationship of interdependence” if one person provides the other with domestic support or care for a fee or other form of payment.  So, for example, a paid live-in caregiver is not eligible to be covered under the Act.

There is no restriction on blood (or adopted) relatives being in a relationship unless one is a minor.  But an elderly parent living with their child, or two sibling living together could be covered under the Act.

Adult Interdependent Partner Agreements

Aside from the three year requirement, people can enter into Adult Interdependent Partner Agreements.  These are contracts that formally establish an AIR.  They are not required, but are useful in situations where parties want to bypass the three year rule or one party is a minor (16-17) and a guardian agrees to create an AIR.

Property rights can happen through resulting or constructive trusts in less than 3 years and in some cases almost immediately. Never rely on the 3 year mark to define property rights

If you have questions about Adult Interdependent Relationships, speak to one of the lawyers at Aarbo Fuldauer LLP in Calgary.

Address: 3rd Floor, 1131 Kensington Road NW, Calgary, AB, T2N 3P4

Phone: (403) 571-5120


The information in the blog is not legal advice. Do not treat or rely upon it as legal advice.  If you require legal assistance, please contact a lawyer
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