What is partner support for a party determined in Alberta? Referring to unmarried couple

What is partner support for a party determined in Alberta? Referring to unmarried couple

In Calgary, Alberta, Canada, the concept of partner support, particularly for unmarried couples, is governed by a combination of statutory law and common law principles. This article will delve into what partner support entails, the legal framework surrounding it, the conditions under which it is determined, and how it is enforced in Alberta.

Legal Framework

In Alberta, the rights and obligations of unmarried couples, often referred to as common-law partners, are primarily governed by the Family Law Act. This act, which came into effect in 2003, brought significant changes to the way partner support is handled in the province.

Definition of a Common-Law Relationship

Under Alberta law, a couple is considered to be in a common-law relationship (also known as an adult interdependent relationship) when they have lived together in a relationship of interdependence for at least three years, or they have lived together for less time but have a child together.

Entitlement to Partner Support

The entitlement to partner support is not automatic. It is based on several factors, including the length of the relationship, the roles of each partner during the relationship, and the financial circumstances of each partner following the separation. The primary purpose of partner support is to alleviate economic disadvantages that may have arisen from the relationship or its breakdown.

Determining Partner Support

When determining partner support, the courts consider several factors:

  1. Duration of the Relationship: Longer relationships may lead to a greater likelihood of support.
  2. Economic Disparities: If one partner sacrificed career opportunities for the relationship, they might be entitled to support.
  3. Contributions to the Relationship: This includes both financial and non-financial contributions, like homemaking and childcare.
  4. Financial Need and Ability to Pay: The need of the partner seeking support and the other partner’s ability to pay are critical factors.

Calculation of Support

The calculation of partner support in Alberta does not follow a strict formula like child support. Instead, it is based on the circumstances of each case. The courts often use the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines as a reference, but these guidelines are not binding.

Agreement vs. Court Order

Couples have the option to agree on partner support terms without going to court. These agreements can be formalized through a Cohabitation Agreement or a Separation Agreement. If couples cannot agree, they may proceed to court, where a judge will make a determination based on the factors mentioned above.

Enforcement of Partner Support

Once partner support is determined, either through an agreement or a court order, it is legally enforceable. Failure to comply with support terms can result in legal consequences, including wage garnishment or other enforcement actions.

Partner support in Alberta for unmarried couples is a complex issue that balances the economic realities of partners post-separation with the principles of fairness and equity. It recognizes the diverse forms of relationships and the need to address economic disparities that may arise when these relationships end. As societal norms and legal interpretations evolve, the approach to partner support in Alberta may continue to develop, reflecting the changing landscape of domestic relationships.