The Court of Queen’s Bench published Ross v. Doehl, 2021 ABQB 1020, a decision in which the Honourable Justice C.M. Jones meticulously reviewed and applied the factors outlined in the Adult Interdependent Relationships Act (AIRA) to determine if two same sex partners were in a relationship of interdependence. 

In order to be considered adult interdependent partners (AIPs), parties must live in a relationship of interdependence for no less than three years. They must share their lives, be emotionally committed, and function as one economic unit. 

There are eight factors to determine if two people function as an economic unit. The factors can be found at section 1(2) AIRA, they are summarized as follows:

  • Having a marriage-like relationship;
  • Having an exclusive relationship;
  • The behavior and living arrangements in the home;
  • The behavior in public;
  • Formalizing legal obligations and intentions to one another;
  • Contributions to the well-being of each other;
  • Financial arrangements;
  • The care and support of children; and
  • Ownership and acquisition of property. 

Two people do not have to live in the same residence to be considered as “living together”. The Court recognizes that there are different reasons why people in relationships choose to keep separate residences or sleep in separate bedrooms. Inconsistent or unpredictable living arrangements do not mean that two people are not in a committed relationship.

The Court did not accept the Defendant’s position that secret sexual encounters during the relationship meant that the parties were not in an exclusive relationship. It would be akin to stating that a married individual was not in an interdependent relationship because of undisclosed extra-marital affairs,

The parties were in a same-sex relationship during a time when their relationship potentially exposed them to scorn and rejection. Public demonstrations of love and affection is not a requirement. The parties worked in an industry that would expose them to judgment and potentially hostile comments. While to the public they did not declare their relationship or show affection, there was evidence that the parties’ families considered them a couple. 

One size does not fit all. The Court recognized that the determination of an interdependent relationship has to be flexible; it requires taking into consideration unique circumstances such as, but not limited to, individual personalities, skills, work arrangements, events, mental state, and societal views.

Foster LLP, representing the Plaintiff in the matter, was successful obtaining a declaration that the parties were adult interdependent partners. If you have any questions or require legal assistance with matters related to adult interdependent partners, please contact our office.