Friday, July 17, 2009

Quebec Common Law Spouse Loses Constitutional Challenge, Denied Spousal Support, Property Division

A Quebec billionaire's former common-law spouse has lost her constitutional challenge against provisions of Quebec's Civil Code that narrowly limit the entitlements of unmarried partners in the Province upon relationship breakdown.

She claimed payment of spousal support from her former spouse as well an entitlement to sharing of the family's property.

According to media reports, the former spouse already receives child support and related payments in excess of $35,000 monthly. The couple cohabited for approximateky ten years.

The former spouse indicates that she intends to appeal the decision.

Montreal Gazette reports on the ruling of Quebec's Superior Court:

MONTREAL — The former common-law spouse of a Quebec billionaire has lost her bid to get the same rights and obligations as people who are legally married.

After a heated and sometimes emotional court case last January, Superior Court Justice Carole Hallee issued her 63-page judgment Thursday, saying that recognizing all couples as "married" would remove some people's freedom of choice not to marry.

She also said that no evidence was presented that showed treatment of common-law couples was discriminatory — a comment that had lawyer Anne-France Goldwater scratching her head, wondering "if we were in the same trial."

Goldwater, who represented the woman, said she will appeal all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.

"Social change comes slowly (because) you have to fight people who are entrenched," she said. "Nobody fights discrimination who hasn't lived it and it's going to take going to higher courts."

The woman known as "Lola" lost her constitutional challenge on Thursday to try to get unmarried couples treated the same as married couples when their relationships end.

Lola asked the Quebec Superior Court to strike down a series of federal and provincial laws. She also asked for a $50-million lump-sum payment from her former spouse and $56,000 a month in alimony.

...Quebec Superior Court Justice Carole Hallée said under existing law, partners in a common-law relationship have no rights, no duties and no responsibilities to each other; no matter how many years they've lived together.

...The judge said current laws do, in fact, protect the rights of unmarried people who choose to live together.

We have previously written about this case in March, 2008 and in January, 2009:

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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