You didn’t need paperwork to launch your common law relationship, but you might want some to end it. When you forge a common law partnership you gain all the same rights and responsibilities as a married couple.
That means when the relationship ends, you have to navigate all the major issues of a divorce. While the courts don’t call it a divorce, someone may still pay child support or spousal support, property will still be divided, and child custody must be decided.
The way to formalize any of these agreements, and to make them enforceable, is through a separation agreement drafted by a professional family lawyer.
What creates a common law partnership in Alberta?
In Alberta, a common law partnership forms when you live together in an adult interdependent partnership for three years, or live together and have a child. You have a spouse-like relationship. You’re romantically involved and you support each other financially.
It is not possible to form a common law partnership with a roommate, or a friend you’re living with. It is specifically reserved for partnerships.
What are common law spouses entitled to in Alberta?
Common law spouses are entitled to 50% of marital property, just like formally married spouses are. Marital property is defined as any property that was accumulated after the date the common law partnership formed. Property that either spouse owned prior to that date returns to that spouse.
This can get complex, as there are times when non-marital property and marital property can become co-mingled.
In addition, either spouse is entitled to apply for spousal support, and may be required to pay it.
Why a separation agreement?
A separation agreement doesn’t dissolve the common law partnership…you can do that simply by moving out. Yet it does allow the court to enforce any settlement the two of you come up with. You also have the ability to take your common law spouse to family court if you cannot come to an agreement and require a ruling.
A less formal, verbal agreement can’t be enforced by the courts and may result in you losing property you otherwise would have had access too, or missing out on a relationship with your children when you could have had more time with them.
Once you have the agreement you can get child support enforcement, or child access enforcement, or spousal support enforcement the way any formally married couple could.
Why Merchant Law?
Call on Merchant Law to help you negotiate your separation agreement and you gain the advantage of decades of family law experience. Our caring, respectful, and responsive lawyers will provide the expertise and care you need to take your next step.
Many of our family law lawyers have been featured in prestigious family law journals and we’ve handled hundreds of cases like yours. We can help you bring yours to its best possible outcome.
To get started, call (403) 237-7777 to set an appointment today.