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Common law spouses : A statement from Me Goldwater on the ten-year anniversary of the Éric v. Lola decision

The anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in the Lola v. Eric case just passed. It felt incredibly sad. The Supreme Court acknowledged that it is discriminatory for Quebec to continue to deprive a certain category of women and their children of rights simply because the spouses were not married.

Quebec stands out as the only province where more than half the population finds itself without rights.

Unfortunately, the Court referred the matter back to the Government of Quebec to correct the situation and eliminate the discrimination.

Wishful thinking.

At the time, I proved that the Quebec government would never act, because this issue is too political and does not unite people. I was not mistaken. The day after the judgment, the government promised a reform. Ten years later, we are still waiting.

It is sad to see how family law has been stagnant on this important issue. I can only deplore the suffering endured by thousands of Quebec women and their children who have been impoverished by this injustice.

According to the Quebec legislature, common law spouses and their children do not make up a family. They have no family residence. They have no family patrimony. They do not have the right to occupy the family residence, except for limited "transitional" periods. The mother is not entitled to alimony, and the child is only entitled to support that is by far the lowest in Canada.

And as for the limited rights to which she can have access (unjustified enrichment, tacit partnership), the unmarried spouse is not entitled to a provision for costs to act on these legal remedies; "accessibility to justice" is therefore a myth for her.

Rest assured that Goldwater, Dubé will never give up. We want to ensure that common law spouses have the same rights as married spouses, and that all Quebec children are entitled to the same protections as all other Canadian children, regardless of the marital status of their parents.

This is our promise. This is our commitment.

Photo: Jude Beck // Unsplash