Quebec court paves way for common-law alimony

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Quebec court paves way for common-law alimony - CTV News


MONTREAL In a decision that could affect more than one million Quebecers, the province's top court has paved the way for common-law spouses to obtain alimony when they split from their partner.

The Quebec Court of Appeal ruled on Wednesday that a provision in the Civil Code dealing with alimony discriminates against common-law spouses.

The court was ruling on one specific case involving an unmarried woman who was denied the right to alimony from her wealthy ex, who is a prominent businessman.

His lawyers argued successfully in Quebec Superior Court he did not owe her alimony because they were never legally married.

The appeals court has given the government one year to replace the provision in the Civil Code.

Justice Julie Dutil wrote in Wednesday's judgment that 1.2 million Quebecers were involved in common-law relationships in 2006. That represented about one-third of all couples in the province.

In a statement released by his lawyers, the defendant said "he had been drawn against his will into a debate on the constitutionality of Quebec law regarding spouses."

He said he has always respected the law and "will continue to do so if the law is amended to comply with a final ruling on this issue."

In Quebec City, Jean-Marc Fournier, the provincial justice minister, said the government would study the decision before making any comment.

"We have to see what the consequences are on unmarried couples but also on married couples," Fournier said.

"The consequences are much more vast than on this just one case. We're talking about the Civil Code. "It would be premature to give a position today."

Common-law couples have varying rights depending on where they live in Canada. In some provinces, they have alimony and property rights.

But despite the fact that one-third of all Quebec couples are unmarried, it remains the only province that does not recognize common-law unions.

Superior Court Justice Carole Hallee ruled in July 2009 that the couple's relationship could not be called a marriage under the wording of federal or provincial legislation.

She said Quebec deliberately chose to not subject live-in couples to the same obligations as those faced by married couples, especially with regard to spousal support and the sharing of assets.

The couple, who met in her home country in South America when she was in her late teens and he was in his early 30s, lived together for seven years before they split up in 2001.

The wealthy defendant testified he told the woman during their relationship he didn't believe in the institution of marriage.

The woman was seeking a monthly payment of $56,000 for herself, a share of the family estate and a lump sum payment of $50 million.

The 51-year-old businessman argued he bought her a $2.5-million home and paid many of her other bills, which totalled more than $200,000 in 2008.

A court ruling from 2006 forced him to give her a car and to pay for a chauffeur, a cook and two nannies. He also buys plane tickets for the children and nannies for two trips a year as well as a daily allowance of up to $1,000 for the holidays.

Hallee upheld the $34,000 a month she received in child support.

The two cannot be identified because the identity of their three children is protected under provincial family law.

What do you think?

Should there be Alimony in Common Law relationships?

I think it's a decent idea for Common Law things like Taxes being thrown together, and other legal things..... but being Common Law IS NOT the same thing as being Married...... They're not the same in Law or by Definition..... if one wants them to be the exact same, then perhaps they should remove one and call both the same thing.

The above case sounds to me like BS and one big money grab..... she couldn't get married to this guy in order to divorce him and take his money and have a comfy life, so she tries to do the same thing as if they were married.

Honestly the main reason why I never married my past ex's is because I was in the relationship to determine if I wanted to marry them later on and accept the responsibility and possible chance of a divorce, leading to me losing half or more of my crap...... I didn't want that, I wanted to see the potential in those relationships, see where they went and then determine if I wanted to marry or move on.

Changing the law to the above could cause a whole hell of a lot of problems for everybody and further clog the courts with stupid cases of petty and bitter ex boyfriends and girlfriends fighting over getting money or other assistance from the other as if they're some how entitled to it or that being in the relationship some how diminished their abilities to live their own lives and work their own jobs.

Don't blame other people for your own independent and sometimes stupid decisions in life..... and as far as I see it, unless you're married, you shouldn't have the right to strip someone of their own income and expect them to foot the bill for you for the rest of their lives like the BS described in the above case..... that's just completely stupid.
The world it is a changing and for all intent and purposes it is the same thing. I think it is so
funny the organized religions and other groups used to howl about gay marriage and how it
would pose a challenge to the definition of marriage. Right under their very nose, the real
challenge was common law which has been around for a lot longer, and has never really
posed a serious challenge to the marriage paper, solution. Common law has all the same
difficulties for children as divorce and breakup as a formal marriage. From what I understand
the emotions are the same, and in the relationship the commitment was the same until the
breakup happens. Society doesn't frown on it in the mainstream anymore. The reality is,
it matters not the same contributions are made in a common law relationship as in a over all
conventional marriage therefore the decisions of the courts regarding family should be the
While I agree with much of what you're saying.... Common Law and Marriage are not the same, because in Common Law / Relationships, there's a very wide range of various relationships and statuses of those relationships that would be quite a headache to toss into law.

I could be living in the same apartment or house with the same woman for several years, not be married, not really in a relationship, but we still have the "Friends with Benefits" thing going on...... maybe I think we're in a serious relationship and maybe she's just there for the convenience.... or vice versa.......

who determines what kind of relationship there is between us?

Secondly, while there are various laws and procedures towards divorce in a marriage, such as someone being unfaithful...... what laws exist towards common law relationships? Besides just living with someone for an extended period of time and being around someone for an extended period of time.... trying to prove a common law relationship is indeed a common law relationship will be much more difficult then proving a marriage and the faults that lead to that marriage ending.

I'm aware that there are many un-married couples who end up having children.... but regardless if they're married or not, it is still possible to see compensation and child support unless the other partner can prove the child is not biologically theirs, etc..... so I personally don't see the justification in adding alimony to common law relationships.....

I'm not a religious person either and think the churches have pumped up marriage as something more then it really is..... but common law is simply not the same as marriage.... there's no legal contract signed, there's no ceremony or witnesses to prove you devoted and agreed to spend the rest of your life with your partner, through sickness and health, rich and poor, etc..... no court, no judge, no justice of the peace and no priest or other religious figure witnessed or confirmed your relationship status or your devotion to that relationship.... there were never any set ground rules or agreements in your relationship signed and documented and there certainly weren't any agreements stating that when your relationship ends, you give a big chunk of your money and stuff to the other partner for their troubles.

Because of this, Common Law relationships are not the same as marriages.... they might be similar due to living together and the possibility of sexual relations...... but there is no commitment or agreement to spend the rest of your lives together, there is no open commitment or agreement to have children..... there is no signed or verbally agreed commitment to be broken and later taken to the courts to prove you have been wronged in the relationship and you now deserve money and compensation from your partner.
From what I understand, they lived as if they were married, so he needs to pay. They entered into a relationship where she was being supported by him exactly the same as if they were married, therefore, he should expect to pay alimony upon ending the relationship, exactly the same as if they were married. Not only that, but from what I understand, he was paying anyway.

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