Wondering about family issues, like searching for biological parents, living with someone, getting married and more?
In Alberta, turning 18 means you are now an adult. You can make decisions for yourself. But you might also still feel like a kid. Chances are you are trying to figure out what your role is in your family. And your parents might be too.
Do you have to obey them if they tell you to unload the dishwasher? Or clean your room? Or pay rent? (More on that last one at a later date.)
Once you are an adult, there is no law saying you must obey your parents’ rules. But common sense might say it is best to do so if your parents are still supporting you! And especially if you are still living at home.
There are a few family matters you might be thinking about now that you are 18.
Changing your Name
You must be 18 to change your own name. If you are 12 to 17 years, your parents or guardians must get your consent before changing your name. Alberta’s Vital Statistics Act governs name changes.
See the Government of Alberta’s website for more information on how to apply for a legal change of name.
Moving in with a Partner
The law does not say how old you must be to be in a relationship with someone. But there are a few laws that you might be interested in.
Adult interdependent relationships (AIRS) are a type of relationship for unmarried people in Alberta. You may hear people refer to “common law” couples, but AIRs are more than that. You should know if you are in an AIR because adult interdependent partners have certain rights – rights on separation (partner support and dividing property), rights on one partner’s death, pension and insurance benefits, and more.
Let’s look at an example … You and your partner move in together. You are young and in love! You live together for three years and two months. In that time, you buy furniture together, pay bills together, etc. You share one another’s lives, function as an economic and domestic unit, and are emotionally committed to one another – you are in a relationship of interdependence. But then things change. And you decide to break up. Once you have lived with someone in a relationship of interdependence for at least three years, you are in an AIR. Suddenly the same rules that apply to married couples about how to divide property on separation now apply to you. As do rules about partner support.
You can also be in an AIR if you live in a relationship of interdependence and have a child together, by birth or adoption. You do not have to live together for three years in this case. You can also be in an AIR if you signed an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement.
Once you turn 18, you can marry without your parents’ permission. There are a few rules about getting married, including having capacity to marry, getting a license, and who can marry you. To learn more, see CPLEA’s FAQs.
Having a Child
Maybe you are, or are about to become, a parent yourself! There are a lot of questions you might have – from the pregnancy to the childbirth and raising the child. Alberta’ family laws apply to parents, regardless of their age.
CPLEA created a booklet for New Parents that talks about some laws you should know about. Read it, save it, download it, print it, or order a hardcopy from our website! The booklet is also available in French.
Searching for your Biological Parents
If you were adopted, you can start searching for your biological parents and siblings once you turn 18. You can request adoption records, which have both identifying and non-identifying information.
If your adoption went through in Alberta, contact the Alberta Post Adoption Registry. This registry keeps Alberta adoption records and provides identifying information to help people obtain Métis or Inuit status.
If your adoption was completed elsewhere, you must review the adoption policy for that province to see what information you can request.
Check out CPLEA’s FAQs on Adoption Records in Alberta for more information.
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The information in this article was correct at time of publishing. The law may have changed since then. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of LawNow or the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta.
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