Is there a legal status to being engaged?

Congratulations! You and your partner are engaged. While you are most likely focusing on the fun details involved with planning a wedding, you may also be wondering about the more serious side of things. Is there a legal status to being engaged?

This probably isn’t something a lot of guys consider.  Maybe they assume that being engaged will afford them the same legal rights as if they we married, maybe they assume they don’t have any legal rights until they are married, or maybe they haven’t thought of it at all.

In fact, there is no actual legal status that arises from an engagement. However, many couples are already involved in a legally binding relationship before they say their I Do’s.

Common-Law/Interdependent Relationship

In the province of Alberta, common-law relationships are referred to as Adult Interdependent Relationships. A couple can enter in this type of relationship in a few different ways, including: living together for at least 3 years, or living in one household with a child from the relationship.

The purpose of the AIR is to provide legal recognition for couples that are not married. Many of the legal rights that a married spouse would have are now available to unmarried partners as well. These rights include, but are not limited to:

  • Spousal Support
  • Child Support
  • Estate Rights
  • Tax Implications

How This Differs From Marriage

While AIR’s and marriage do have a lot of the same legal rights, there are still some major differences between the two. The two main differences are:

  • Property Rights
  • Estate Rights (Dower Interest)

Giving Your Engagement Some (Legal) Meaning

So to return to the question of engagement: while you and your fiancée do not have any legal recognition as a couple because of the engagement, there is a good chance that you are already considered to be in an adult interdependent relationship.

If you are not already in an AIR, you can both fill out the Adult Interdependent Agreement, which will validate the legal status of your relationship. Once you are married, your rights will change from those of an AIR to those of a married spouse.

In Summary

While our engagement may not signal any legal rights between you and your spouse-to-be, it is quite possible that you have already been living in an interdependent relationship status for quite some time, and if not it is easy for you to achieve. This status will afford you some of the same legal rights as marriage but not all of them.

If you want the full legal status that comes along with marriage I guess it’s time to walk down that isle!

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