Cohabitation Agreements: Why you should have one

So, you think you found the one and you’re ready to take the next step and move into together? That’s great!

Moving in together is exciting but it’s important to be aware that moving in together can also create obligations for both you and your partner. The Adult Interdependent Relationship Act defines “adult interdependent partners” (AIP) as it relates to romantic relationships as two people who¹:

  • Have lived together in a “relationship of interdependence” for at least three years.
  • Lived together for less than three years if they have a child together.

Why is this important?

In January of 2020 the province of Alberta introduced the Family Property Act (FPA) which replaced the Matrimonial Property Act². The FPA will now apply to both married couples and AIP. This means that in the case of a separation³:

  • You or your partner may be required to make spousal support payments subject to a number of factors considered by the court.
  • The Act will determine how property is split:
    • In the case of property acquired by one partner prior to the relationship, the increase in value from the date the relationship started will be split equally.
    • In the case of property acquired by one spouse during the relationship, the increase in value from the date of purchase will be split equally.
  • Other assets and/or debts accumulated during the relationship to be split equally.

Per the Act each partner will have a period of two years from the date the relationship ended to make a claim.

Want to set your own terms?

That’s perfect! The FPA actually allows couples to avoid being bound by the Act if they have worked with a lawyer to draft a cohabitation agreement setting out exactly how they would like to proceed in the event of a separation. To do this, one party would hire a lawyer to draft the agreement and represent them. The other party would hire their own lawyer to review the agreement once drafted and provide them with independent legal advice before signing.

Having this type of an open and honest conversation with your partner at the start of your relationship can offer you both peace of mind during the relationship. And of course, should you ever choose to part ways, having a cohabitation agreement in place will save you both the additional heartache and money associated with separating assets during an already emotional breakup.

If you’re ready to take the next step and want to have a cohabitation agreement drafted, our team of family lawyers is here to help. Give our office a call today at 780.831.7370 or email and we’d be happy to set you up for a consultation with one of our Family lawyers.


Work Cited


  1. Adult Interdependent Relationship Act, SA 2002, cA-4.5, s. 3.
  2. Government of Alberta, “Dividing property between unmarried partners”, online:
  3. Family Property Act, RSA 2000, cF-4.7.