In Corlett v. Cavanagh, 2019 ABQB 316, the issue before the court was whether the nature of the parties’ 18 year relationship considered them adult interdependent partners (“AIPs”) under the Adult Interdependent Relationships Act, SA 2000, c A-4.5 (the “Act”). Ms. Cavanagh had sued for unjust enrichment and support and Mr. Corlett had defended same by claiming that their relationship was one of “friendship and employment” and thus Ms. Cavanagh’s application should be dismissed.
The Act provided the framework for Justice Little’s analysis, specifically its definition of a relationship of interdependence, setting out the criteria of adult interdependent partners. Justice Little examined the nature of the parties’ 18-year relationship who met in 1999 and began dating in 2000 when Mr. Corlett was 57 and Ms. Cavanagh was 27. Relevant circumstances of this relationship related to the AIP Act criteria included:
Shared Lives: The parties shared each other’s lives extensively. They regularly vacationed together, cohabited together in Alberta when he was there and British Columbia when she was there (accompanying him on his parenting visits), spent Christmases together (also with each other’s children). While Mr. Corlett noted that he was good to all his employees, he did not vacation with or provide gifts (e.g. $30,000 worth of jewelry or a Lexus) to his other employees.
Emotional Commitment and Economic/Domestic Unit: The parties exchanged “loving emails” and had a continuous conjugal relationship, kept each other company, socialized and cooked meals together. Ms. Cavanagh was clearly financially dependent on Mr. Corlett and he supported her financially. There was an “indicia of mutual support of each other’s children and the children were clearly integrated into their relationship”. Mr. Corlett assisted Ms. Cavanagh with her drug abuse problems, and it was not found to be an open relationship.
Despite Mr. Corlett’s affidavit evidence that he had attempted to lay down ‘ground rules’ for their relationship including:
“I only date women between 26 and 29. They want a good time. After 29, they want three things: marriage, baby and picket fence. So we can date, but when you turn 29, we’re done”
Justice Little did not accept Mr. Corlett’s attempts to minimize the length and quality of the relationship between the parties. Justice Little was satisfied that the parties were clearly AIPs within the meaning of the Act.