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We’re in an Adult Interdependent Relationship and planning to move to a different province. Do we keep our status in the new province?

Not necessarily. Every province has a different law about living in a “marriage-like” relationship without getting married. Just because you are “Adult Interdependent Partners” in Alberta does not mean that you will not qualify for something similar in another province. Be sure to look into what the law says in your new province of residence.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
We were never married. Will our family property be divided equally if we separate?

Not necessarily.

In Alberta, for unmarried couples, there is no specific law about dividing property. And the rules for married couples (from Alberta’s Matrimonial Property Act) do not apply to unmarried couples. This means that you cannot assume that property you got while you were living together will be shared equally when you break up.

Instead, the only rules about dividing your property are:

  • from the “common law,” and
  • from the general laws about property ownership.

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

  • the property that is purchased 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.

However, there are some exceptions to the starting position. They include:

  • the splitting of CPP pension credits;
  • options for splitting land in joint names;
  • the ability to apply for exclusive possession of the family home; and
  • the ability to apply to a court for a different division of property based on a claim of “unjust enrichment.”

In addition, if you come to an agreement about how to divide your property, you can choose to divide your property equally, if you wish.

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Last Reviewed: October 2015
What if the other parent will not return a child after a visit?

What you are able to do will depend on your circumstances:

  • If you do not yet have a court order that deals with the care of children, you can apply to the court for one.
  • If you have a court order, but it does not have an "enforcement clause" (which is a clause that says the police can get involved if there are problems), you will have to apply to the court for an enforcement order.
  • If your court order already has an enforcement clause, you may be able to ask your local police for help. Check with your local police, as policing agencies have their own rules and policies around what they will and will not enforce.
Last Reviewed: October 2015
My relative recently died. Do we have to use a funeral home to deal with the remains and have a final ceremony?

You do not have to use a funeral home to arrange cremation, burial, or a ceremony to remember your loved one.

However, when dealing with a death there are many steps that must be taken to follow the law. Funeral home staff can guide you through these steps. It is up to you to decide if you want that extra help or not. The following steps are required.

  • You will need a Medical Certificate of Death. You can ask for it from the doctor who signed it.
  • You will also need to register the death.
  • You will then to take these forms to a Vital Statistics Office so that a burial permit can be issued.
  • If you want to cremate your loved one, other forms will be needed.
  • If you want to bury your loved one, you will need to make arrangements with a registered cemetery.

Also, you will need to arrange for the transportation of your loved one’s body. If the deceased is to be transported in a private vehicle within Alberta, there are no regulations as to the type of vehicle that must be used and no permits are needed. However, if your loved one had a communicable disease, Alberta’s Bodies of Deceased Persons Regulation does have requirements for handling the body.

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Last Reviewed: May 2016
What can I do if the other guardian is not following our parenting agreement?

If you have a court order that describes when you are supposed to have the children, but the other guardian is not following the order, you can apply for something called an enforcement order.

If you only have an agreement, the situation is more complex. You may wish to start by getting a court order that outlines the parenting time, and, since there has already been a problem seeing the children, you can also ask the Court for an enforcement clause.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
What are the “grounds for divorce”?

In Canada, there are 3 grounds that you can use to file for divorce. They are:

  • that you and your spouse have lived “separate and apart” for at least one year (this is also called a “no fault” divorce);
  • that the defendant (the person responding to a divorce application) has committed adultery since the date of the marriage; or
  • that the defendant has treated his or her spouse with physical or mental cruelty.
Last Reviewed: October 2015
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
What is a contact order and how do I get one?

“Contact” occurs when someone who is not a guardian of the child spends time with the child. Although the parents/guardians of a child can always agree to let that child spend time with a non-guardian, they do not always agree. A “contact order” is a court order for a non-guardian (often another family member) allowing him or her to spend time with the child. 

If you are not a guardian of a child, but want to be able to spend time with the child, you can apply for a contact order. If you get a contact order, it means that you will be able to spend time with the child. That time could be in person, or by telephone or video conversation, or by mail or email. You would have no decision-making powers with respect to the child, nor would you be responsible for the well-being of the child. 

Last Reviewed: October 2015
If my Adult Interdependent Partner dies without leaving a Will, will I automatically inherit everything?

Not necessarily. If your partner had descendents, and/or a married spouse as well as an Adult Interdependent Partner, you will not inherit the whole estate.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
When I move in with my romantic partner, do we automatically become “common-law” partners?

No. Before qualifying as “common-law” partners under federal law, you must live together in a “conjugal” (in other words, sexual) relationship for one year, or less than one year if you have a child together.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
Can I bring my pet rat with me when I move from Saskatchewan to Alberta?

No. Alberta has a very active program to keep the province free of rats. As a result, no one is allowed to keep any type of rat as a pet in Alberta. Only those with specific permits may keep rats. For example, for scientific research.

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Last Reviewed: August 2016
What does it mean if an agreement is “set aside”?

A judge may “set aside” an agreement (in other words, cancel the agreement) if he or she feels that it is not legally sound. This could happen for many reasons, such as:

  • one party was pressured, forced, or tricked into signing the agreement (this may also be called “undue influence”);
  • one party did not have the capacity to enter into the agreement. “Capacity” means the parties who make the agreement must have the legal authority to make decisions for themselves;
  • the parties involved in the agreement did not give each other full and accurate information;
  • if any of the parties did not understand what they were signing;
  • if the agreement contains something that is against the law (for example: agreeing to say that you have been separated for one year so that you can get a divorce, when in fact you have not been separated for one year); or
  • if the agreement does not provide enough support for the children.

Because there are many reasons for an agreement to be set aside, it is important that all parties get legal advice before signing the agreement to make sure that their agreement will stand up in court.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
How do I know if the information I’ve found online is “good” information?

You need to take some time to evaluate any legal information that you find. You want to know that the information:

  • is up-to-date,
  • applies in your jurisdiction (meaning your province or municipal area), and
  • comes from a reliable source.

For a list of things to consider when evaluating legal information, see the “How to identify quality legal information online” page.

Last Reviewed: March 2016
What is supported decision-making?

Supported decision-making allows an adult to name one or more other adults who will help make and communicate personal decisions. Supported decision-making is intended for people who may need a bit of help from someone they trust when making personal decisions, even though they still have capacity. The parties must agree to the arrangement, but there is no need to involve the Court.

Last Reviewed: April 2016
What is the difference between an “Affidavit” and a “Statement”?

Statements and Affidavits are similar in many ways. They are both documents that you can use to give the Court “evidence.” In them, you include the facts that you will rely on when making your claim. Both kinds of documents must be “sworn” or “affirmed” to be true.

Statements are used for actions under the Family Law Act. The Family Law Act was introduced as a way for families to resolve their issues more quickly and cheaply than under other laws. To do this, special forms were created (the Claim and the Statements), and simpler rules we created to go along with those forms. These forms are mostly fill-in-the-blank.

Affidavits are generally not fill-in-the-blank forms. Instead, you include what you want to say in numbered paragraphs. Also, there are additional rules that must be followed.

Affidavits are used in all actions are that are not under the Family Law Act. However, under the Family Law Act, Affidavits can be used for specific purposes, such as:

  • to prove that court documents have been properly served (the “Affidavit of Service”);
  • to provide more evidence than can be included in a Statement; or
  • to provide evidence from someone else.
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Last Reviewed: July 2017