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A collection agency is harassing me about my ex-partner’s debts. Do I have to pay them?

It depends.

In general, the property of unmarried partners is to be divided in this way:

  • the property that was bought during the relationship belongs to the person who paid for it and who is registered as its owner; and
  • joint assets are usually divided equally.

Similarly, the debts of unmarried partners is to be divided in this way:

  • when a debt is in only one of the partner’s names, that partner must pay all of the debt; and
  • when a debt is in both partners’ names, each partner must pay half of the debt.

Therefore, if your name is not on the debts (such as if the credit card is not in your name), you are not responsible for repayment of the debts. However, if your name is on the debt (such as if the credit card is in your name), or if you co-signed or guaranteed the debt, you are responsible for repayment of the debts.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
After living with my partner for three years, do we automatically become Adult Interdependent Partners?

Yes.

Under Alberta law, a person is in an Adult Interdependent Relationship if he or she has been living with another person in a “relationship of interdependence”:

  • for three years; or
  • for less than 3 years if they have signed an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement; or
  • for less than 3 years if they have a child together (by birth or adoption).

A “relationship of interdependence” is a relationship where the partners are not married but they:

  • share one another’s lives;
  • are emotionally committed to one another; and
  • function as an economic and domestic unit.

Therefore, if you are living in a relationship of interdependence (which most partners are, as that is the point), and if you are not already Adult Interdependent Partners (“AIPs”), you will become AIPs on the third anniversary of your living together.

Becoming AIPs means the partners each have certain legal rights and responsibilities. If you wish to “contract out” of these rights and responsibilities, you might be able to by signing a valid cohabitation agreement. Be aware, however, there are certain things that you cannot contract out of. For example: child support is the right of the child, not the parents. Therefore, you cannot contract out of child support. In other words, you cannot make an agreement that says neither party has to pay child support to the other.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
Alberta

It depends.

Civil orders granted under a provincial law will most likely not protect you outside of the province they were granted in. This is because the provincial law only applies in that specific province. The other provinces have no way to enforce the order.

However, a criminal order granted under a federal law (such as the Criminal Code of Canada) will apply to anyone in Canada. Therefore, if you get a protective order under criminal law, it is more likely to be enforced outside of Alberta.

Some examples of criminal protective orders granted under federal law include:

  • peace bonds;

  • no contact orders;

  • bail conditions; or

  • conditions in a probation order.
Last Reviewed: March 2017
Am I entitled to more property if my spouse was abusive or cheated on me?

No. The law that governs the division of matrimonial property does not generally consider the behaviour of the parties when deciding how to divide property. Providing support has certain objectives, and punishing bad behaviour is not one of those objectives. The only time behaviour is generally examined, and may be considered by the judge when deciding the case, is when that behaviour related to the property.

For example: a spouse may not get 50/50 division if it can be shown that that spouse secretly sold assets and kept the proceeds. In such a case, that spouse could get a much smaller share of the remaining property to be divided.

Related Information Pages:
Last Reviewed: June 2017
Am I entitled to more spousal/partner support if my partner was abusive or cheated on me?

No. Both of the laws that can govern spousal/partner support (the Divorce Act and the Family Law Act) say that the behaviour of the parties should not be considered when deciding whether or not to give support. Providing support has certain goals, and punishing bad behaviour is not one of those objectives.

Last Reviewed: June 2017
Am I required to report suspected child abuse?

Yes. Under Alberta law, anyone who has “reasonable and probable grounds” to believe that a child is being abused, or is at risk of being abused, must report it to Alberta Child and Family Services. This is part of Alberta’s Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act.

Child abuse can include:

  • neglect;
  • emotional abuse;
  • physical abuse; or
  • sexual abuse.

Children rely on adults to keep them safe. Also, if you do not report suspected abuse, you could be fined up to $2,000.

If you think a child is being abused, call the Child Abuse Hotline at 1‑800‑387‑5437 (KIDS) to speak with a caseworker.

Last Reviewed: January 2017
Am I responsible for my ex-spouse’s debts?

Possibly. When people think of “property” they often think of the “stuff” they own—their assets. But property is not just assets. Property, including the property that is to be divided between separating spouses, also includes debts. In some cases, even debts created after separation may also be considered “matrimonial property.”

Related Information Pages:
Last Reviewed: October 2015
Are child support orders enforceable on reserves?

It depends on the circumstances. The Indian Act affects the enforcement of child support orders when the payor is a status Indian who lives on reserve. If the recipient (in this case, the recipient is the child) is not a status Indian, then the Indian Act limits the ability to enforce a support award, and the property or income on reserve cannot be used to pay the support.

On the other hand, if both the payor and the recipient (the child) are status Indians, then the Indian Act does not limit the ability to enforce a support order, and on-reserve property or income can be used to pay the support. 

Last Reviewed: October 2015
Are partner/spousal support orders enforceable on reserves?

The Indian Act affects the enforcement of partner/spousal support orders when the payor is a status Indian who lives on reserve. If the recipient is not a status Indian, then the Indian Act limits the ability to enforce a support award, and the property or income on reserve cannot be used to pay the support. On the other hand, if both the payor and the recipient are status Indians, then the Indian Act does not limit the ability to enforce a support order, and on-reserve property or income can be used to pay the support. 

Last Reviewed: October 2015
Are religious marriage officiants allowed to refuse to perform a same-sex wedding ceremony because it goes against their religious beliefs?

Yes. Canada’s Civil Marriage Act allows religious marriage officiants to refuse to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies if it goes against their religious beliefs.

Related Information Pages:
Last Reviewed: August 2016
Are there any protective orders that will protect me outside of Alberta?

It depends.

Civil orders granted under a provincial law will most likely not protect you outside of the province they were granted in. This is because the provincial law only applies in that specific province. The other provinces have no way to enforce the order.

However, a criminal order granted under a federal law (such as the Criminal Code of Canada) will apply to anyone in Canada. Therefore, if you get a protective order under criminal law, it is more likely to be enforced outside of Alberta.

Some examples of criminal protective orders granted under federal law include:

  • peace bonds;
  • no contact orders;
  • bail conditions; or
  • conditions in a probation order.
Last Reviewed: February 2017
Are there programs in Alberta to help an abusive person change their behaviour?

Yes. People with abusive behaviour can choose to change. However, choosing to change is not easy, and it will take time and work to overcome patterns of behaviour.

There are programs to help across Alberta. A good place to start is to call the Family Violence Info Line at 310-1818. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in more than 170 languages.

Last Reviewed: August 2016
Are there shelters available specifically for elders?

Edmonton and Calgary each have a shelter dedicated to helping seniors who are being abused. In other centres, seniors may be able to get help in leaving abusive situations through general shelters or other organizations. 

You can call the Family Violence Info Line to learn more about what services are available around the province. Their toll-free phone number is 310-1818, and they are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in more than 170 languages.

Related Information Pages:
Last Reviewed: June 2017
Are there situations where the court does not have to follow the Child Support Guidelines?

In almost all cases, using the Child Support Guidelines is mandatory: there are very few cases when a court can depart from the Guidelines.

A few examples of situations where a court can choose to depart from the Guidelines (but it may not) include:

  • where there is an adult who “stood in the place of a parent” (also called “in loco parentis”);
  • where the children are now adults;
  • where the child’s living arrangements are split/shared equally between the parents;
  • where the payor’s income is greater than $150,000 per year; and
  • where there is undue hardship.
Last Reviewed: October 2015
At my job interview, can they ask me how soon I plan to have children?

No. Human rights laws in Canada protect against discrimination on the basis of gender and family status. This means that in a job interview, an employer cannot ask questions about your plans to have children.

Last Reviewed: February 2017

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