Separated parents in Alberta may be entitled to receive support from the other, despite not having been married. Adult Interdependent Partner support, or support for a common law partner, can be a highly contentious issue as the payor typically feels that since they did not get married, they should not be responsible for their ex-spouse. However, that is not always the case in Alberta. While the Divorce Act applies for couples that are married, the Family Law Act applies for unmarried couples, and contains very similar provisions to those of the Divorce Act when it comes to partner support.
Unmarried parents may be entitled to both child support and adult interdependent partner support under the Family Law Act. Child support is typically paid according to the Alberta Child Support Guidelines, to the parent who has primary care of the children or, in the event of shared parenting, from the parent that earns more to the parent that earns less as a set-off.
A Court can order adult interdependent partner support, pursuant to Section 57 of the Family Law Act. Much like for married couples, the party seeking to receive support would need to first prove they have an entitlement to support. Once the entitlement is proven, then the quantum and duration of the support would need to be determined. There is no presumption that support will not need to be paid because the parties were not married, the factors outlined in the Family Law Act that are to be considered when making a partner support order are nearly identical to the factors outlined in the Divorce Act for spousal support for married couples. The objectives for adult interdependent partner support in the Family Law Act are identical to the objectives in the Divorce Act.
Adult interdependent partner support, like spousal support, is a very fact-based issue and requires a review to determine if someone may be entitled to receive support. Some of the most common factors seen when support is ordered include: a large disparity in incomes, long-term relationships, significant financial interdependence, young children, etc. If you believe you may be entitled to support, or are concerned you may be liable for support, we recommend that you consult with legal counsel for advice.
Written by Michael Ross – Associate Lawyer