Common Law

An Adult Interdependent Partnership (AIP)

Common Law Relationships in Canada

What is the definition of common law?

The general understood term is “common law” however the provincial acts refer to this relationship as an Adult Interdependent Partnership (AIP). While each province may have a slight variation of this term, they mean virtually the same thing.

When two people live together in an unmarried relationship, they are referred to as adult interdependent partners of one another. To be in an AIP, two people must live together in a relationship of dependence for either a continuous period of not less than three years (may vary per province) or a period of some permanence (if there is a child of the relationship by birth or adoption). The other term used in Canada is common law. The number of years to qualify is set out explicitly in each province.

What laws apply?

The laws governing Adult Interdependent Partnership (AIP) are governed provincially. Every province may have a slight variation on the title. While the title may vary, it is still a common law relationship as referred by the general populace in Canada. Each province sets out what defines this relationship in terms of duration of cohabitation and other definitions.

Common law and what it might mean to you

When two people are living together, it is important that everyone has a clear understanding of the expectations around money and children. These clear expectations lay the foundation for concise communication and can prevent misunderstanding that may result in legal battles.

It is important regardless of what province you live in that you consider the legal implications of the living together for over certain periods of time. While there is a lack of consistency across Canada and the rules have been changing, many have been left surprised by the implications of living together for only a few years. It is prudent to understand what laws apply to your situation.

Do I need a cohabitation agreement?

Preparing a properly executed co-habitation agreement makes sense if you want to set out in advance how to handle any assets you have in the case of a relationship breakdown. You can also set out how assets and liabilities are dealt with in the case of death. The decision as to whether you have one or not is a personal choice but bear in mind, that if you do not set out what your intentions are in an agreement then the law will govern what is considered joint property in the case of a dispute. This agreement can also set out intentions with regards to children.

In the case of death when in an AIP relationship

An AIP has many of the same legal rights as a married couple, so creating a plan prior to or during the relationship will prepare your estate in the event of separation or even death.

How can we get an agreement drafted for common law?

Fairway provides couples with the ease of mind when entering into an AIP by delivering a comprehensive adult interdependent partnership plan and agreement. The AIP plan lays out the financial, support and parenting implications and boundaries so that both people have a clear understanding of their future together. The way this agreement is drafted, with attention to financial details is crucial in ensuring it will stand up to scrutiny if ever challenged. Our professional mediators and experts are trained to ask the difficult questions in a non-threatening, educated way, to ensure that all your bases are covered, but that the integrity of your relationship is preserved. Additionally, the process itself is likely to make your relationship stronger. We provide a foundation and protection for both parties, so the relationship continues positively with the protection you both desire.

Related pages:
Co-habitation agreements