8th March 2010
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Common Law Separation–Partner Support

Common Law Separation: Partner Support
Your “common-law” relationship is coming to an end: what happens now? An increasing number of people find themselves asking this question.

Different people are in different situations: you’ve been with your partner for years now, and you’ve given everything to the relationship – your time, your devotion, and your resources – and because of that, you had agreed that you would stay home to raise the children. Or, you were the one who agreed to keep working, and your partner either stayed home – or they kept working but never made as much money as you. What happens now?

Depending on your situation, there are different possibilities. “Spousal support” (whether you call it ‘alimony’ or maintenance or something else) is not available because you were not formally married. However, in Alberta the Family Law Act provides some relief. Call it “partner support” if you like, but the truth is that it’s much like “spousal support” in a marriage situation – in fact, the provisions for such support in the Family Law Act – the objectives it is designed to meet, and the factors the Court is required to consider – closely follow those in the Divorce Act.

Depending on the nature of the relationship, the functions performed by each of you, and any agreement you and your partner may have made, the Court is required to look at the means, needs and other circumstances of each of you to determine if support should be paid. In making a support order, the Court is to try to off-set any economic disadvantage you have suffered as a result of the relationship or its breakdown (including any disadvantage that you’ve suffered because of child-care responsibilities), as well as other factors.

All of these considerations can be difficult to contend with, especially when you are experiencing the breakdown of your relationship. And, if partner support is payable, there is still the question of how much this may be, and how long it may continue.  Find out your rights or responsibilities so that you can deal with this new chapter in your life head-on: talk to Stringam Denecky. We have extensive experience in common-law separation issues, including the support issues. Call or e-mail Stephen Mogdan at (403) 328-5577 or scmogdan@stringam.ca, for advice on your situation.
Stephen C. Mogdan

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Written by Stephen Mogdan