Monday, March 03, 2008

Common Law Spouse Challenges Quebec Civil Code

Under the Quebec Civil Code, common law spouses who have separated in Quebec have few entitlements in comparison to those of the same group in other Provinces.

At 35 percent, the Province of Quebec boasts the highest percentage of common law spouses in the Country. A constitutional challenge by one Quebec woman may have a serious legal impact in the Province.

The woman, whose name cannot legally be released, separated from her wealthy common law spouse in 2003. She intends to seek a $50 million lump sum payment, in addition to spousal support of $56,000.00 a month, in 2003.

The Globe and Mail reports:

“[A Montreal Woman is] fighting a constitutional challenge that would rewrite the rules on couples who shack up but forgo marriage - a trend that is especially widespread among Quebeckers, the Canadian champions of common-law unions.

"There are two classes in Quebec - married women with conventional benefits, and second-class common-law spouses who end up having to fend for themselves," says one of the woman's lawyers, Anne-France Goldwater.

…Ms. Goldwater is challenging the constitutionality of Quebec's Civil Code, as well as Canadian marriage laws, which she argues discriminate against live-in couples because they restrict the definition of marriage to a "lawful union" of two people.

"Common-law couples are being left out of the definition without regard for the quality of the relationship they've entered into," Ms. Goldwater said.
We will continue to follow this case and provide updates as it develops.

- Annie Noa Kenet Toronto

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