Queen's University

Supreme Court of Canada examining common-law rights: Queen's University professor

2012-01-25

Queen’s University law professor Nick Bala is available to comment on the Supreme Court of Canada examining on Thursday whether common-law spouses have the right to alimony and property. The case focuses on the separation of a Quebec billionaire and a former Brazilian model and has the potential to impact many Canadian couples.

“It is possible that the Supreme Court of Canada will rule that she can get support only (no effect on most provinces since common law spouses already get support), or she can get support and property (Ontario and other provinces need to act), or she has no claim,” says Professor Bala.

“As an added theme, this case is the most practically significant aspect of the on-going debate in Canada over how to define legally significant relationships.  In November, the British Columbia courts decided that polygamy is illegal – clearly not an acceptable type of relationship in Canada.  Last week, we decided that same-sex marriage will be treated the same as opposite-sex marriage; both interesting and significant, but this case will directly affect many more people.”

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