A new legal form of family adult interdependent relationships
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A New Legal Form of “Family”: Adult Interdependent Relationships

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A New Legal Form of “Family”: Adult Interdependent Relationships

  • Definition of a Relnshp of Interdependence- a relationship outside marriage in which any 2 persons:a) share one another’s lifeb) are emotionally committed to each otherc) function as an economic & domestic unit-

Criteria for DeterminingWhether Two People FormAn Economic & Domestic Unit Under Alberta’s Adult Interdependent Relationships Act

  • Conjugality & Exclusivity: Whether the persons have a conjugal relationship & the degree of its exclusivity

  • External Representation:Degree to which the persons represent themselves to others as a domestic & economic unit

  • Formalization:Degree to which the persons formalize their intentions, legal obliga-tions, & responsibilities to each other

  • Children: Care & support

  • Property:

    Ownership, use, & acquisition of

A person is the adult interdependent partner of another person if:

  • The person has lived with the other person in a relationship of interdependence:i) for a continuous period >3 yrsorii) of some permanence, if there is a child of the relationship by birth or adoptionOR

  • The person has entered into an adult interdependent partner agreement with the other person.

Q & A onAdult Interdependent Partnerships

  • Can a person have more than one A.I.P. at a time?


  • Can a married person, living with his/her spouse, have an A.I.P.?


  • Can a married person, separated from his/her spouse have an A.I.P.?


  • How terminate an A.I. Partnership?

    - Walk away for at least 1 year

    - Marry someone

    - Enter A.I.P. with someone else

    - Written termination agreement

    - by other unspecified means

Some Facts on Alberta Families

  • 84% of Alta pop. lives in family

  • Lone parent families: only 12%

  • Marital Status: see pie graph

Figure 2.1:

Marital Status & Living Arrangements of the Alberta Population Aged 15 & Over, 1995



NOTE: The following are 1995 GSS data to be up-dated with 2001 census)

Some Facts on Alberta Families

  • 84% of Alta pop. lives in family

  • Lone parent families: only 12%

  • Marital Status: see pie graph

  • Growth in common-law since ’95

  • Marriages far exceed divorces in any given year. Absolute number of divorces is declining.See graph 

Family Formation & Dissolution:

Marriages and Divorces in Alberta, 1946-2001

Source: Statistics Canada CANSIM II data base. For divorces, Table 530002, Vector 119;

for marriages, Table 530001, Vector 106. CANSIM is an official mark of Statistics Canada.

Some Facts on Alberta Families

  • 84% of Alta pop. lives in family

  • Lone parent families: only 12%

  • Marital Status: see pie graph

  • Growth in common-law since ’95

  • Marriages far exceed divorces in any given year. Absolute number of divorces is declining.

  • Interprov. Comparisons:Alta. has highest crude divorce rate and one of highest crude marriage rates. 39% of Alta. marriages end before 30th anniversary. Among provinces, only Que. & B.C. have higher divorce rate.

Why does Alberta have such an high divorce rate? Students’ Hypotheses: (start here Oct. 4/02)

  • Economy: boom & bust cycle

  • Affordability

  • Strains of occup’n-related absences

  • Long hours at work: away from fam.

  • Strain of interprov migrants having left behind soc support & soc control networks

  • Lower age at first marriage?

  • High female labour force participation rate

Why does Alberta have such an high divorce rate? Ponting’s Hypotheses:

  • Structural & Other Strains on Marriages

    e.g., a) boom & bust economy ($ fights)

    b) high level of family violence

    c) high proportion of migrants leaves weaker social control by parents & siblings & perhaps less of a social support netwk

  • Ideological Factors

    a) Sexism of Alberta males (see time use data)

    b) Individualism – high value placed on

    c) Personal Autonomy – high value on

    d) U.S. Influence: right to pursuit of happiness

    e) Protestant Work Ethic (sacrifice family)

  • Facilitative Factors

    High female labour force participation rate (Click here) suggests that Alberta women have greater economic freedom to leave a marriage.

Family Formation (cont’d.):

The Baby Boom as Measured by Number of Births in Alberta,


The Second ‘Boom’: Due to Echo & In-migration, NOT increased rates of fertility.

Source: Statistics Canada’s CANSIM II database. Vector ________.

CANSIM is an official mark of Statistics Canada.

Figure 2.4: Crude Birth Rate for Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Canada, 1921-99

Family Formation (cont’d.):The Baby Boom in AlbertaMeasured by Total Fertility Rate

Note that the earlier-observed increase in number of births in 1980s is NOT due to increased fertility rates.

Note that Alta. Fertility rate now below replacement.

Indicators (a) & Counter-Indicators (x)of Traditionalism in the Family

xDivorce Rate (high: see previous data)

x Women’s Labour Force Participation (high)Click here for graph

Same-sex Partnerships

Attitudesa-Re: Importance Of Marriage: Albertans are more trad’l than Cdns x - Re: Importance of Lasting Couple Relnshp Is much more important than marriage for both Albertans & Cdns

Sex-Role Stereotyping in Time Use in:a- Household Chores (both spouses employed)Yes; Alta. women spend about twice as much time on this as Alta men.a- Child CareYes; Alta. Women spend signif. more time at this than do their partnersX - On both child care and household chores, Alta employed women spend less time than do employed women in other countries.

Importance of Marriage and of a Lasting Relationship As a Couple (SOURCE: GSS 1995)



(Cell entries are percentages)

Importance of Being Married

“In order for YOU to be happy in life, is it very important, important, not very important or not at all important …

a) To be married?” Asked of all respondents. Very Important 39 38 40 36 36 35

Important 38 39 36 35 38 33

Not Very 21 20 21 25 22 28

Not at All 3 3 3 4 4 5

Importance of Having a Lasting Relationship

b) To have a lasting relationship as a couple?” Asked of all Rs. Very Important 59 59 59 58 58 59

Important 33 32 33 35 37 34

Not Very 7 8 7 6 4 7

Not at All 1 1 1 1 1 1

Time Use: Alta. in Comparative Perspective (Hrs/Day) Courtesy of Dr. A. Gauthier. Data shown are average hours per day, calculated over a 7 day week for married or co-habiting adults, age 18-49, with at least one child home under age 18.


Employed Men









Employed Women










Non-employed women










In the previous table,

Note that for both child care and household chores, employed Alberta men spend:

  • signif. less time than employed Alberta women

  • less time than employed Canadian men

  • less time than their Swedish and even German counterparts

Satisfaction and Emotional Ties Within Families: Indicators

  • In Conjugal Relationships- Happiness in the Relnshp - Frequency of Laughing Together with Partner

  • Cross-Generationally- Closeness to Parents When Growing Up

    - Frequency of Contact with Parents In Last 12 Months

Familial Happiness: Indicators

On the next slide, note:

  • Degree of Self-Reported Happiness in the Relationship- Vast majority are very happy (Cda & Alta)- Alta. Women are particularly happy in their relationships- Happiness gap betw. M & W is greater in Alberta than in Cda

  • Frequency of Laughing Together- Vast majority laugh together daily (Cda & Alta)- Albertans (esp. men) are happier than Cdns as a whole.

Happiness in the Conjugal Relationship, 1995

“Overall, would you say that your relationship is …?” Asked of all persons who are married (not separated), living common-law, or living in a same-sex partnership.


TotalMen WomenTotalMenWomen

Very Happy76 72 80 74 75 73

Fairly Happy22 26 18 24 24 25

Not too happy2 1 2 2 2 3

NOTE: Alberta’s married couples (78%) are much more likely than common-law couples (63%) to report themselves to be “Very Happy”.

Frequency of Laughing Together With Spouse/Partner

“About how often do you and your (spouse/partner) laugh together? Is it...” Asked of all persons who were asked the happiness question above.



Almost Every Day87 90 84 82 84 80

Once or Twice Per Week11 9 13 15 14 16

Less Than Once Per Week1 1 3 1 3 4

NOTE: Common-law partners in both Alberta & Canada report a slightly greater frequency of laughing than do married couples.

Emotional Closeness to Parents When Growing Up

  • To Mother

    No diffs. betw. Albertans & Cdns

    Men were slightly closer to mother than are women: 90% of men and 85% of women say they were very close to mother when growing up

  • To Father

    No diffs. betw. Albertans & Cdns

    No diffs betw. Men and Women

    Less close than to mother. (87% agreed strongly that they were very close to their mother when growing up, but the corresponding figure for father was only 69%

Frequency of Face-to-Face Contact with Parents in Last 12 Months

  • Slightly lower in Alta. than Cda for both mother & fathere.g. About 1/3 of Albertans, but about 42 % of Cdns had daily or at least once per week contact with their father in previous 12 months

  • Women, are slightly more likely than men to be in frequent contact with their mothers (i.e., 39% among Alta women vs 33% among Alta men)

Value Attached To Children:Positive and Negative Indicators

  • Would Not Have Children If Could Live Life Over

    Only 3% of Albertans and 5% of Canadians agree

  • Having Children Made Respondent an Happier PersonAbout 40% of Albertans and slightly more Cdns strongly agree. Only about 3% of each sample disagree.

  • Responses to Recommendations of the Alberta Children’s AdvocateThe government repeatedly resists attempts by the Children’s Advocate to improve the lot of children in state care.

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