Legal Separation for Calgary's Common Law Couples
January 12, 2016
At GDE Family Law, we help couples and families handle a variety of issues, and are one of Calgary's leading divorce law firms. As such, we take our responsibility to inform our clients and the citizens of Calgary very seriously, and we try to ensure that everyone has access to reliable and useful legal information that can help them make the best possible choices for themselves and their families.
This includes people who may not be legally married, but who nonetheless find themselves legally entwined with a partner. Many in Calgary might not realize it, but you can create a legally binding relationship with a romantic partner even without saying "I do" or signing any paperwork. Separating from a "common law" relationship can be every bit as emotionally stressful and legally and financially complex as a divorce from a marriage—sometimes even more so.
This short article series will outline the legal realities of a common law relationship, the process of legally separating from such an arrangement, and the complications that can arise. As every case is unique, we can't give legal advice that is specific to your case without discussing the details with you, however this general information is applicable to many common law separations and may assist you with planning and better understanding the process you're facing.
Not Exactly a Marriage, Not Exactly a Divorce
In Alberta, a common law relationship is officially referred to as an "adult interdependent relationship." You and your partner may be considered to be in an adult interdependent relationship if you have explicitly agreed to enter one, if you have been living together for three years, or if you have a child and are living together for any amount of time. Any of these situations can result in a "common law" relationship, and ending the relationship may require legal documentation.
If you have been part of an adult interdependent relationship and wish to separate, you may be entitled to ongoing financial support from your former partner—or you may be required to pay ongoing support to your former partner. Child support can also be legally implemented after a common law relationship breaks down, and is required regardless of type of relationship that existed.
Property and asset division during the separation of a common law couple is a complex issue, and can be a less straightforward process than the division of assets following a marriage—something that is difficult enough already. Assistance from an experienced Calgary family law lawyer is often helpful in ensuring that you leave a common law relationship with all of the assets you are entitled to; though these cases are not divorces, they involve many of the same practical considerations and legal entanglements, and a knowledgeable legal professional can make the process far more transparent.
Help With Your Common Law Separation
We'll look at other differences between divorces and legal separations following common law relationships in future articles. If you have questions about the process of ending your own adult interdependent relationship, please contact our office today.
Return to News