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Cohabitation is another term for living together with someone. A cohabiting pair is a couple that lives together in an intimate and committed relationship but is not married or in a civil partnership. Cohabiting couples can be either opposite-sex or same-sex.

What is a cohabitation agreement in Alberta?

A cohabitation agreement in Alberta, Canada, is a legal contract that is typically entered into by couples who are living together in a domestic partnership without being married. This agreement is designed to outline the rights and responsibilities of each partner during the course of their cohabitation and in the event of a separation or the end of the relationship. It allows couples to clarify their financial, property, and other relevant arrangements while living together. “A cohabitation agreement is a legal document in Alberta between two people who are in a common law partnership, also termed formally as an adult interdependent relationship.” ”  It adheres to many of the same ideas as aprenuptial agreement‘.

Prenuptial or Cohabitation Agreements are the greatest approach to safeguard your property before you marry or live together. Prenuptial agreements are contracts entered into by two parties before their marriage. They can also be entered into after marriage, though this is less usual.

Cohabitation Agreements are contracts entered into by persons who wish to live together or who are already living together but are not married. The legislation in Alberta has changed. As of January 1, 2020, if you have lived with another person for three years (or fewer if you have a kid) and then split, you have the same rights to each other’s property as married couples. As a result, Cohabitation Agreements are more popular now than they were previously.

Cohabitation agreements outline all of the rights and responsibilities of two persons in an adult interdependent relationship. In most cases, these agreements determine who gets what and who pays for what in the event of a divorce or separation. They can, nevertheless, establish rights and duties throughout the partnership.

They, for instance, specify how joint assets would be allocated in the case of a divorce between common-law couples. Or they determine who pays for what, who is liable for what, who owns what, and so on inside a partnership.

Who may enter into a cohabitation agreement?

To be eligible for cohabitation agreements, you must be in an ‘Adult Interdependent Relationship’ under Alberta law. This is sometimes referred to as a common law connection (albeit this word no longer has legal relevance). The Adult Interdependent Relationships Act determines qualification, which states that you are in an adult interdependent relationship if you fulfill the following conditions:

Designation of Adult Interdependence A “relationship of interdependence” is defined as a relationship between two people who: (i) share each other’s lives, (ii) are emotionally engaged to one another, and (iii) function as an economic and domestic unit.

You are considered to be in an adult dependability relationship if you meet the following criteria:

  1. the person has lived with the other person in an interdependent relationship (i) for a continuous period of not less than 3 years, or (ii) for some permanence, if the relationship has a child through birth or adoption, or
  2. the person has entered into an adult interdependent partner arrangement with the other person in accordance with Section 7.

In layman’s terms, this means that a relationship is ‘adult interdependent’ if it survives outside of marriage and both individuals share each other’s life emotionally, financially, and domestically (they live together). Unless the couple has a child together (through birth or adoption), the partnership must have been in place for at least three years. If these prerequisites are not satisfied, an ‘Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement’ may be entered into.

What does a cohabitation agreement include? What Is the Importance of Cohabitation Agreements?

  1. Defining Rights and Responsibilities: Cohabitation agreements help clarify the rights and responsibilities of each partner during their time together. This can include financial responsibilities, property ownership, and other important matters.
  2. Asset Protection: They can specify how property and assets acquired during the relationship will be divided if the couple separates. This can be crucial, especially if one partner has significantly more assets than the other.
  3. Debt and Liability Management: The agreement can outline how debts and liabilities incurred during the relationship will be managed in the event of a breakup.
  4. Child-Related Matters: If the couple has children together, the agreement may address issues such as child custody, access, and support.
  5. Legal Clarity: Cohabitation agreements can provide a legal framework for the relationship, reducing the potential for disputes and conflicts in the future.

Why do I seek a cohabitation agreement?

The appeal of cohabitation agreements lies in the sense of security and legal safeguarding they offer. Many individuals have faced the complexities of separation without a cohabitation agreement and wish to steer clear of the legal complications that can arise. Without such an agreement, your partner could potentially lay claim to jointly owned assets, and you might find yourself responsible for their accrued debts during the relationship. These agreements clearly outline how property and debt should be divided, thus preventing the possibility of drawn-out legal disputes. Moreover, they can ensure that neither partner unfairly benefits from the relationship. For example, if both partners contribute to renovating a shared home, the agreement safeguards both partners’ rights to the increased property value. Depending on the contributions made and the payment arrangements, one partner might not receive their fair share without a protective agreement in place. By agreeing to a cohabitation agreement while the relationship is thriving, it eliminates the prospect of legal conflicts in case the relationship ends and contributes to stability within the relationship.

Who should sign a cohabitation agreement?

A cohabitation agreement should be signed by any couple who fits the criteria for an adult interdependent relationship. These legal safeguards are advantageous to both parties in the partnership.

Who can’t execute a cohabitation agreement?

The Adult Interdependent Relationships Act states that you are unable to engage in a cohabitation arrangement if you:

  • (2) An adult interdependent partner agreement may not be entered into if the person 
  • (a) is a party to an existing adult interdependent partner agreement, 
  • (b) is married,
  •  or (c) is a minor,


  • (i) the minor is at least 16 years old and
  •  (ii) the minor’s guardians have given their prior written consent.

When is the most appropriate time to sign a cohabitation agreement?

It is never too late to enter into one of these contracts. You can engage in an Agreement now if you are married or in a relationship that will be affected by the changes in the law. The goal of these Agreements is to determine how your property would be split if you separated now, while you are still getting along. In the case of any worse situation, these agreements can give immediate peace of mind while saving thousands of dollars in legal expenditures.

These Agreements are unique since everyone’s scenario is distinct, for example:

  • You may begin a relationship with far more property than your spouse.
  • You may wish to safeguard assets for yourself or future generations.
  • What you have may be the consequence of a prior marriage/divorce, and you do not want to share it again.
  • You may wish to keep some items private while sharing others.
  • You might wish to agree on how to divide future assets.
  • The list is limitless, but you get the picture.

The conversations that lead up to these Agreements sometimes feel like a minefield. Trying to maintain a pleasant relationship while addressing crucial financial problems on the other hand can be difficult and emotional.

Let us deal with these difficulties together. Our attorneys are all trained mediators with experience in interest-based discussions.

  • We will assist both of you in addressing your objectives and worries. 
  • We will provide a fair explanation of the legal aspects involved. 
  • We will guide you in identifying possible solutions and examining those alternatives. 
  • If there are concerns related to step-children or family relationships, we can tap into the knowledge of our family experts.”
  • If you need assistance with financial planning or managing your budget, we can connect you with our financial experts. 
  • All of our specialists are highly skilled in their respective fields and have received training in mediation. 
  • They will offer advice without causing any disruptions. The outcome will be a carefully crafted agreement that fulfills the requirements of both parties.

With a Prenuptial or Cohabitation Agreement in place, the relationship may go much more smoothly, with each of you knowing where you stand if the relationship ends.

To get started, simply call or book an appointment with one of our Family Lawyer at Kolinsky Law.