Non-romantic Adult Interdependent Relationships

Law

Two people living together in a non-romantic (platonic) relationship may have legal status as “Adult Interdependent Partners” in Alberta. See the sections below to learn about:

  • What an “Adult Interdependent Relationship” is
  • How you become Adult Interdependent Partners
  • What a “relationship of interdependence” is
  • Legal rights and responsibilities of Adult Interdependent Partners

Please read “Who is this Information Page for?” just below to make sure you are on the right page.

LegalAve provides general legal information, not legal advice. Learn more here

Last Reviewed: January 2016
Who is this Information Page for?

This Information Page contains legal information about people’s rights when they live together in a non-romantic Adult Interdependent Relationship

In Alberta, the term “Adult Interdependent Relationship” is often used to describe a specific kind of romantic partnership where people live together in a romantic relationship but are not married to each other. However, in certain circumstances, the term can also describe a situation when people live together but are not romantically involved. 

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

  • for 3 years; or
  • for less than 3 years if they have signed an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement (see below); 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.

The relationship does not have to be romantic or sexual to be an Adult Interdependent Relationship; it can be non-romantic (also called “platonic”).

On this Information Page, we will only deal with the creation of non-romantic Adult Interdependent Relationships (AIRs). For information about romantic Adult Interdependent Relationships, see the Living Together: Common-law Partnerships & Adult Interdependent Relationships Information Page instead.

Tip

You can also find more general information about living together on the Before Moving in Together: Legal Considerations Information Page and the Just Sharing Space Information Page.

In general, the law on this Information Page is about non-romantic Adult Interdependent Relationships in Alberta. This is because in order for Alberta law to apply, the people involved should all live in Alberta. If you are not sure whether both of you officially live in Alberta (this is also called “residency”), please see the New Relationships & Out-of-Province Issues Information Page.

You are currently on the Law tab of this Information Page, which has information on what the law says in Alberta. For information on the process you need to follow to ask for what you want, click on the Process tab above. There is also important information in the Common Questions and Myths tabs above.

The law and legal system are complex: this will take a while. Be sure to give yourself enough time to read the information below, understand how it applies to your situation, and know what actions you may need to take.

The first topic is What the words mean. Please read this section even if you think you already know what the words mean. In order to understand the resources on this page, you will need to understand the legal terms.

What the words mean

These words are not listed alphabetically—they are in the order that makes it easiest to understand the complete legal picture.

If you are looking for a specific term, you can use the Glossary, which is in alphabetical order.

Adult Interdependent Relationship (AIR)

A person is in an Adult Interdependent Relationship if he or she has been living with and in a “relationship of interdependence” with another person:

  • for 3 years; or
  • for less than 3 years if they have signed an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement (see below); 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.

The relationship does not have to be romantic or sexual to meet these requirements; it can be non-romantic (also called “platonic”).

Adult Interdependent Partner (AIP)

A person who is in an Adult Interdependent Relationship with another person (see above).

Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement (AIPA)

A written contract in which 2 adults agree to become Adult Interdependent Partners. That contract must be in the form required by the Alberta Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement Regulation—see the following resource.

PDF Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement Regulation
Government of Alberta
English

conjugal

A word used to describe a relationship—a “conjugal relationship” means the people involved have sex. This is also called a “romantic relationship.” This is different from a “platonic relationship,” which is a relationship of any kind that does not include having sex.

platonic

A word used to describe a relationship—a “platonic relationship” is a relationship of love or friendship, which may be intimate and affectionate, but is not sexual (conjugal).

cohabitation

Living together in the same home.

cohabitation agreement

A contract created by 2 or more people who live together, or are about to live together, but are not married (and not planning on getting married in the near future). In this agreement the parties can address many issues, such as:

  • how bills will be divided between the parties;
  • whether one party will pay partner support to the other if they were to separate; and
  • how property will be divided between the parties if they were to separate.
The laws that may apply to you

You may wish to read the laws (also called “statutes” or “acts”) that apply to your situation. The laws included on this Information Page are:​


PDF Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement Regulation
Government of Alberta
English

Web Family Law Act (and associated Regulations)
Government of Alberta
English

Web Income Tax Act
Government of Canada
English

When reading laws, you also need to know about the “regulations” associated with those laws. Each of the links above takes you to a page that lists the laws as well as the regulations that go with them. For more information on laws and regulations, see the Our Legal System: Canada and Alberta Information Page.

Cohabitation agreements

A cohabitation agreement is a domestic contract created by two or more people who live together, or are about to live together, but are not married (and not planning on getting married in the near future). In this agreement, the parties involved can set out the terms that will govern important issues during their relationship and what will happen if they later separate. A cohabitation agreement is often made between romantic partners, but people in non-romantic relationships can have one as well.

For detailed information, see the Cohabitation Agreements Information Page.

For information about what happens with a cohabitation agreement when non-married partners separate, see the Relationship Breakdown if You Had a Domestic Contract Information Page.

Becoming “Adult Interdependent Partners”

In order to be in an Adult Interdependent Relationship (AIR), you have to have been living with and in a “relationship of interdependence” with another person:

  • for 3 years; or
  • for less than 3 years if you have signed an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement; or
  • for less than 3 years if you 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.

As you can see from the definition of “relationship of interdependence,” the relationship does not have to be romantic or sexual to meet these requirements; it can be non-romantic (also called “platonic”).

In other words:

  • If you are not related and live together for 3 years (without having or adopting a child or signing an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement), you will be in an AIR when you reach the third anniversary of moving in together (whether you want to be or not).
  • If you have or adopt a child together, you automatically become Adult Interdependent Partners upon the birth or formal adoption, no matter how long you have lived together.
  • If you sign an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement (AIPA), you become Adult Interdependent Partners as soon as it is completely signed and witnessed, no matter how long you have lived together. However, you cannot sign an AIPA if you are a minor (under 18 years old in Alberta), unless you are 16 or older and have your guardians’ consent.

An Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement (AIPA) is a written and signed contract. That contract must be in the form required by the Alberta Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement Regulation. For information on how to complete an AIPA, see the Process tab of this Information Page.

Be Aware

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. This may be especially relevant if you are seniors who live together for companionship, as you may not wish to create other rights and obligations that could affect the rights of your children from your previous relationships upon your death. For more information, see the Cohabitation Agreements Information Page.

For more general information about getting into an Adult Interdependent Relationship, see the following resources. Although most of these resources deal with getting into romantic AIRs, the information can apply to non-romantic partners as well.

PDF Living Together: Adult Interdependent Relationships
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF Adult Interdependent Relationships
Government of Alberta
English


Web Adult Interdependent Relationships FAQs
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Audio/Web Cohabiting Relationships and Adult Interdependent Partners
Calgary Legal Guidance
English

Video Mariage et relation adulte interdépendante
L'Association des juristes d'expression française de l'Alberta
French

PDF La vie de couple en Alberta
L'Association des juristes d'expression française de l'Alberta
French
Limitations on who can be in an AIR

In addition to meeting the requirements above for Adult Interdependent Partners, there are some limitations on who can be in an AIR.

  • You can only become the Adult Interdependent Partner of someone you are related to (by blood or adoption) by signing an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement with him or her.
  • You cannot have more than one Adult Interdependent Partner at a time.
  • You cannot sign an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement with someone if you are married to another person. However, if you are separated from your married spouse, you could become the Adult Interdependent Partner of another person in one of the other two ways (living together for 3 years, or having or adopting a child together). In this case, you would have both a “spouse” and an “AIP.” For more information about what counts as being “separated” from your spouse, see the Ending a Married Relationship under the Divorce Act Information Page.
Being in an Adult Interdependent Relationship: Rights and responsibilities during the relationship

When people enter into an Adult Interdependent Relationship (AIR), the rights, responsibilities, and potential benefits of each person changes considerably from when they were living on their own or just “sharing space.”

Social and legal benefits and rights

In certain cases involving social and legal benefits, you (and your AIP) will be treated as if you were married. A few examples are listed below.

Right to financial support

Adult Interdependent Partners are obligated to financially support each other. This means that if one is not adequately supporting the other (for example: if a healthy AIP is not properly supporting a sick AIP), the AIP who is not being adequately supported can apply for a support order under the Family Law Act. Support includes food, clothing, medical aid, and lodging. If one AIP is capable of providing these necessaries of life for the other AIP but has refused or neglected to provide them, the Court may grant a support order.

For information about how to apply in court for a support order, see the Process tab of this Information Page.

Government financial assistance

The AISH program (Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped) recognizes that AIPs are obligated to support each other. As a result, if an AISH applicant is in an Adult Interdependent Relationship, the income and assets of the applicant’s AIP are considered in determining AISH eligibility and level of benefits. Similarly, AISH health benefits and assistance may also benefit an AISH recipient’s partner. For more information, see the following resources.

Web AISH Eligibility: Cohabiting Partners
Government of Alberta
English

Web Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH)
Government of Alberta
English

Similarly, when an AIP applies for income support (also commonly called “social assistance”) from the government of Alberta, he or she must declare the resources of the other AIP, which may have an effect on the benefits received. For more information, see the following resource.

Workers’ Compensation

The Alberta Workers’ Compensation Act provides financial compensation to the victim of a workplace accident. If the workplace accident resulted in the victim’s death, compensation may be paid to his or her dependants, spouse, or Adult Interdependent Partner. For more information, see the following resource.

Web Workers' Compensation Board - Alberta
Workers' Compensation Board - Alberta
English

Victims of Crime Compensation

The Alberta Victims of Crime Act provides financial compensation to a victim injured as a result of a violent crime committed in Alberta, or due to his or her attempts to prevent the crime. The victim may be injured emotionally or physically. If the crime resulted in the victim’s death, the benefits can go to an Adult Interdependent Partner. For more information, see the following resource.

Audio/Web Victims of Crime
Calgary Legal Guidance
English

Insurance issues

Under the Alberta Insurance Act, Adult Interdependent Partners are eligible for certain insurance coverage (such as life insurance, auto insurance, or property insurance), which used to be only available to married spouses. For specific information about your rights as an AIP, talk to your insurer.

For more general information, see the following resources.

Web Insurance for couples
Government of Canada
English

Web The Adult Interdependent Relationships Act
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Right to information

A public body (such as a school or a hospital) may disclose personal information to the Adult Interdependent Partner of an injured, ill, or deceased individual. This right used to be limited to married spouses.

PDF FOIP News: Amendments to the FOIP Act
Government of Alberta
English
 
PDF FOIP Bulletin: Personal Information of Deceased Persons
Government of Alberta
English
See p. 7-8.
 
Web What is a public body?
Government of Alberta
English
 

Change of name

An Adult Interdependent Partner can change his or her last name to the last name of his or her Adult Interdependent Partner. For more information, see the following resources.

Audio/Web Cohabiting Relationships and Adult Interdependent Partners
Calgary Legal Guidance
English
See the second-to-last paragraph.
  
Audio/Web Changing Your Name
Calgary Legal Guidance
English
  
Web Change of Name
Student Legal Services of Edmonton
English
 

Pension benefits

Adult Interdependent Partners are considered “pension partners” in Alberta. This gives AIPs rights to make choices regarding the pension, as well as death benefits. For more information about your rights as a pension partner, contact the administrator of your AIP’s pension plan.

Rights and benefits related to the illness or death of an AIP

If one of the AIPs dies during the relationship, there are various rights, responsibilities, and benefits that apply to the surviving AIP. A few examples are listed below.

  • If your AIP becomes so ill that he or she needs a Guardian and/or Trustee and there is nothing in place that appoints someone, you as an AIP are now treated just as a spouse would be when applying to be the Guardian or Trustee.
  • If your AIP dies without a Will, you as an AIP are now treated just a spouse would be when applying to handle your partner’s estate. In addition, you may receive all or a portion of your deceased partner’s estate. The estate may also be required to provide adequately for you and any children that also have a right to sale of the estate.
  • If your AIP has a pension plan, you as an AIP qualify as a pension partner and all the benefits that come from that.
  • If you and your AIP were renting your home, and your now-deceased AIP was the only person named on the lease, as an AIP you may be allowed to stay in the property for a temporary period (up to 90 days from the date of death). This only applies to rental properties governed by the Alberta Residential Tenancies Act.

However, as an AIP, you do not have all the same rights as a married spouse. For example, when a married spouse dies, the Alberta Dower Act gives the surviving spouse a special interest (called a “dower” interest) in the home they own and lived in together (called the “homestead”). A dower interest means that the surviving spouse can live there for the rest of their life. However, AIPs have no dower rights.

For more information about what it means to be a Guardian or Trustee, see the following resource.

PDF The Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act - Alberta
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

If you are not sure if your property qualifies you for the 90-day protection under the Residential Tenancies Act, see the “Introduction” section of the following resource.

Web Landlord and Tenant Law
Student Legal Services of Edmonton
English

For an introduction to AIPs’ general rights and obligations upon the illness or death of one of the partners, see the following resources. Although most of these resources deal with romantic AIRs, the information can apply to non-romantic partners as well.

PDF Making a Personal Directive in Alberta
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
 
PDF Making an Enduring Power of Attorney
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
 
PDF Making a Will
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
 
Web Common Law Relationships Alberta
Common Law Relationships
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

For more detailed information, see the Planning for Illness Information Page and the Planning for Death Information Page.

“Living together”: Differences between the provinces

Every province has a different law about living in a dependent relationship without getting married. In many cases, the laws only apply to romantic relationships. If you and your Adult Interdependent Partner move to another province, you could have completely different rights and responsibilities. You will need to learn about the laws in that province.

Similarly, just because you were something similar to “Adult Interdependent Partners” in another province does not mean that you will automatically be Adult Interdependent Partners when you move to Alberta. You must first meet the Alberta requirements—see the “Becoming Adult Interdependent Partners” section above.

Other possible financial consequences

The laws around being in an AIR are not the only laws that govern your relationship. It is also important that you understand all of the legal consequences related to some of the financial steps you might take when moving in together.

One of the biggest changes that come up when people move in together is doing things “jointly.” Or you might choose not to own things jointly. Whichever choice you make, it can have very serious legal consequences. For more information, see the “Understanding joint ownership and debt” section of the Before Moving in Together: Legal Considerations Information Page.

For information about how the law treats the division of property for non-married partners (including platonic Adult Interdependent Partners), see the Property Division for Unmarried Couples Information Page.

More information about AIRs

For more general information about the rights and responsibilities of being in an Adult Interdependent Relationship, see the following resources. Although most of these resources deal with romantic AIRs, the information can apply to non-romantic partners as well.

Web Adult Interdependent Relationships FAQs
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
 
Audio/Web Cohabiting Relationships and Adult Interdependent Partners
Calgary Legal Guidance
English
 
Web The Adult Interdependent Relationships Act
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
 
Being in an Adult Interdependent Relationship: Rights and responsibilities if the relationship ends

Not too long ago, an AIP had none of the rights that a married spouse has when the relationship ended. This is no longer the case.

However, when the relationship breaks down, AIPs do not have all the same rights as married spouses. For example:

  • In Alberta, when a marriage ends, the division of property is governed by a law called the Matrimonial Property Act. However, this law only applies to married couples. For AIPs, there is no automatic right to property when the relationship ends. Each AIP keeps what they own, and joint property is shared equally. If one AIP is not satisfied with that result, he or she can only apply to the court on the grounds of “unjust enrichment.” That is a lengthy and complex legal process. For more information, see the Property Division for Unmarried Couples Information Page.
  • AIPs cannot use the Divorce Act when they separate. Instead, they must use the Alberta Family Law Act. Although the two laws are very similar, they are not exactly the same.

For more general information, see the following resources. Although most of these resources deal with the breakdown of romantic AIRs, the information can apply to the breakdown of non-romantic relationships as well.

Web Adult Interdependent Relationships FAQs
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
 
PDF Dating and New Relationships for Older Adults
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
 
Web A Guide to the law in Alberta regarding common-law property
Student Legal Services of Edmonton
English
 
Web Common Law Relationships Alberta
Common Law Relationships
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.
 
Video Mariage et relation adulte interdépendante
L'Association des juristes d'expression française de l'Alberta
French
Other legal issues to consider when living together

Sometimes, when people live together in an Adult Interdependent Relationship, they have ideas about how the law will treat them. They can be very surprised to find out that they were wrong. A few common examples are listed below.

Substitute decision-making

Many people living in an Adult Interdependent Relationship assume that if they become incapable of making their own decisions, their Adult Interdependent Partner (AIP) can just take over. They believe that medical staff, banks, and other service providers would simply take direction from their AIP (this is called “substitute decision-making”). As a result of this belief, they do not complete the legal paperwork required to give their AIP this authority.

This belief is wrong. Alberta law does not have any such automatic default position.

For example:

  • You are injured in an accident and you are left in a coma. Your AIP wants to make your medical decisions.
  • If you had thought about it in advance, you would have wanted your AIP to make decisions for you. But you did not leave any paperwork saying that. No one can ask you now, as you are in a coma.
  • Your parent or adult child arrives at the hospital and thinks that he or she should make the decisions instead of your AIP.
  • To solve the issue, your loved ones will have to go to court and ask the judge to appoint a decision-maker. This costs time and money, and can be very emotional for everyone.

To plan for a time when you will no longer be able make decisions for yourself, there are two different legal documents that are required:

  1. a Power of Attorney, which is for financial decisions; and
  2. a Personal Directive, which is for all other decisions.

For an introduction into these documents, see the following resources.

PDF Making a Personal Directive in Alberta
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
 
PDF Making an Enduring Power of Attorney
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
 
Video Personal Directives
Government of Alberta
English
 

If you live in an Adult Interdependent Relationship, it is important to create these documents, and to review them as your needs change. For example: when you first move in together, you may still want a person other than your AIP to be your substitute decision-maker. However, when you have lived together longer, you might change your mind. 

Be Aware

A separation does not necessarily affect a Power of Attorney and a Personal Directive. In other words, if you separate, your ex-partner might still be able to make decisions for you. If you separate, be sure to sign new documents.

For more detailed information, see the Planning for Illness Information Page.

Wills

Many people who live in an Adult Interdependent Relationship assume that if they die without a Will (also called dying “intestate”), their partner will automatically get everything. This is not the case.

To plan for what will happen to your things when you die, you will want to write a Will. If you live in an Adult Interdependent Relationship, it is important to create this document, and to review it as your life changes. For an introduction to the topic, including information about what occurs if you die without a Will, see the following resource.

PDF Making a Will
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
 
Be Aware

A separation does not necessarily affect a Will. In other words, if you do not sign a new Will after you separate, your ex-partner might still benefit. If you separate, be sure to sign a new Will.

For more detailed information see the Planning for Death Information Page.

Death & “Designation of Beneficiary” forms

When a person dies, much of what they own goes into their estate, to be dealt with in their Will. But there are certain types of things that do not pass through the Will. Instead, they go directly to a specific person. This includes assets and policies that are left to someone (the “beneficiary”) because that person is named on a “Designation of Beneficiary” form.

Examples include:

  • Life insurance: when you purchase life insurance, you fill out a Designation of Beneficiary form indicating who will get the money (the “benefit”) when you die.
  • Pension plans: if you have a “pension partner” (see the “Being in an AIR: Rights and responsibilities during the relationship” section above), he or she gets the benefits. However, if you have no pension partner, the death benefit goes to the person that you named on the Designation of Beneficiary form.
  • Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs): when you set up an RRSP, you are asked to sign a Designation of Beneficiary form. The person you name in that document gets the RRSP when you die.
  • Tax-free savings accounts: when you open a tax-free savings account, you will also be asked to complete a Designation of Beneficiary form. The person you name gets the balance of the account when you die.

When you are in an Adult Interdependent Relationship you may or may not want to name your partner as a beneficiary on a Designation of Beneficiary form. This is something to think about when you move in together, and to reconsider as your relationship changes.

Be Aware

A separation does not affect your Designation of Beneficiary forms. In other words, if you do not sign a new form after you separate, your ex-partner will get the death benefit. If you separate, be sure to sign new Designation of Beneficiary forms.

For more information about Designation of Beneficiary forms, see the following resources.

Web The Importance of Beneficiary Designations
Advisor Group
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.
 
PDF Beneficiary Designations: Why, when and how?
Manulife Financial
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.
 
Web Designated beneficiaries
Government of Canada
English
 
PDF Understanding Insurance Basics
Government of Canada
English
 
Web Module 6. Insurance
Government of Canada
English
 
 
Web Bénéficiaires désignés
Government of Canada
French
 
PDF Mieux comprendre les assurances
Government of Canada
French
 
Web Module 6. Assurances
Government of Canada
French

Joint tenancy

Property held in “joint tenancy” (such as a shared bank account) also does not pass through the Will. You can find more information about joint tenancy on the Before Moving in Together: Legal Considerations Information Page.

Process

Learn more about non-romantic Adult Interdependent Relationships in Alberta, including:

  • Entering into an Adult Interdependent Partnership Agreement
  • Asking the Court for a support order from your Adult Interdependent Partner

Please read “Who is this Information Page for?” just below to make sure you are on the right page.

LegalAve provides general legal information, not legal advice. Learn more here

Last Reviewed: January 2016
Who is this Information Page for?

This Information Page contains legal information about people’s rights when they live together in a non-romantic Adult Interdependent Relationship.

Tip

If you are just starting out with this topic, it’s a good idea to begin on the Law tab of this Information Page. There you will find basic information about what the law says, what the words mean, and other issues that will help you understand better what to ask for and how to get it. Once you have the basics down, you will be in a better position to learn about the process you need to follow to resolve your legal issues.

In Alberta, the term “Adult Interdependent Relationship” is often used to describe a specific kind of romantic partnership where people live together in a romantic relationship but are not married to each other. However, in certain circumstances, the term can also describe a situation when people live together but are not romantically involved. The relationship does not have to be romantic or sexual to be an Adult Interdependent Relationship; it can be non-romantic (also called “platonic”).

On this Information Page, we will only deal with the creation of non-romantic Adult Interdependent Relationships (AIRs). For information about romantic Adult Interdependent Relationships, see the Living Together: Common-law Partnerships & Adult Interdependent Relationships Information Page instead. 

You are currently on the Process tab of this Information Page, which has information on the process you need to follow to ask for what you want. For information on what the law says in Alberta, click on the Law tab above. There is also important information in the Common Questions and Myths tabs above.

Entering into an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement

To become Adult Interdependent Partners by completing an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement, you will need to complete the form required by the Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement Regulation. There is a template on the last two pages of the following resource. ​

PDF Adult Interdependent Relationships
Government of Alberta
English
 
Be Aware

There is no registry for these agreements. You do not have to register it anywhere, but you will need to keep the original(s) in a safe place.

Asking the Court for a support order from your Adult Interdependent Partner

Adult Interdependent Partners are required to financially support each other. If your AIP is not adequately supporting you (for example: if you are sick and cannot support yourself), you can apply for a support order under the Family Law Act.

Support includes food, clothing, medical aid, and lodging. If one AIP is able to of provide these necessaries of life for the other AIP but has refused or neglected to provide them, the Court may grant a support order.

Hiring a lawyer or representing yourself?

If you go to court, you can choose to either be represented by a lawyer, or to represent yourself. If you choose to represent yourself, you will be called a “self-represented litigant.”

Hiring a lawyer

If you hire a lawyer, your lawyer will explain to you what is happening with your case and why. A lawyer can help you reach an out-of-court agreement, or represent you in court.

However, even if you do have a lawyer, you may wish to continue reading this (and other Information Pages) to educate yourself further.

For more information about your options for legal representation and other legal help, see the Community Legal Resources & Legal Aid Information Page and the Working with a Lawyer Information Page.

Representing yourself

As a self-represented litigant, you can find some help at Resolution and Court Administration Services. See just below for information about help available in your area.

For more information, see the Representing Yourself in Court Information Page.

Help from Resolution and Court Administration Services

Resolution and Court Administration Services (RCAS) is a group of programs and services offered by the Alberta government to help people resolve their legal matters. RCAS staff:

  • help you stay out of court when possible;
  • help with the court process and forms if you go to court; and
  • offer free or low-cost programs to help families with the legal system.

For more information about how RCAS can help you, see the following resource.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English
Be Aware

These services used to be called Family Justice Services, Family Law Information Centres, and Law Information Centres. They are now together as a single point of contact to help Albertans with legal matters. However, you might still see some resources that call those services by their old names.

If you choose to go to court, some RCAS services might be mandatory. This means that you must use those services. This can depend on where you live and what kinds of issues you are taking to court.

In some locations, such as in Calgary, all self-represented litigants must first go through “triage services” before doing anything else. At triage, you will:

  • meet with RCAS staff for about 10 minutes to see what your next steps should be;
  • be referred to different services based on your needs;
  • be told what steps you can take next; and
  • schedule an intake appointment if needed (see below).

In many locations, self-represented litigants will have the option to go through an intake process. In some locations it is mandatory. At intake, RCAS staff will discuss your options with you. This may include a referral to court-supported family mediation when appropriate. See the following resources for more information.

Web Family court assistance
Government of Alberta
English

Web Intake Services (Alberta)
Government of Canada
English

RCAS staff also:

  • help you review your documents before you file; and
  • provide family court counsellors (FCCs) who help you learn about the court process and present the facts to the judge in Provincial Court.

For more information about how RCAS can help you, see the following resource.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English

 

Choosing the court & completing your paperwork

In some provinces, any “family law” matter goes to a specialized family court: everyone is in the same court. This is not the case in Alberta. When you are in still in an AIR and you are asking for a partner support order under the Family Law Act, you will have to choose between Provincial Court and the Court of Queen’s Bench.

All of the information you need to make that choice and to complete the paperwork in either court is on the Process tab of the Partner Support under the Family Law Act Information Page.

Although that Information Page has information about partner support when an AIR breaks down, the procedure is the same in an AIR that is still intact. The only difference is the “reason” you give on the Statement form (see below). Specifically, if you are still together, you will want to check off the third checkbox in section 4 of the form. This states that you and your AIP “are still living together” but that he or she “has without sufficient cause refused or neglected” to provide you “with the necessities of life.”

PDF Statement - Spousal/Partner Support (Form FL-48 / CTS3473)
Government of Alberta
English
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Do not use this form, or start your court action, without first reviewing the Process tab of the Partner Support under the Family Law Act Information Page.

Provincial Court

Queen's Bench

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