The Supreme Court of Canada heard the arguments today in the case of Lola vs. Eric. Lola is challenging the validity of the articles in Book II (The Family) of the Civil Code, which excludes common law spouses from the legal protections afforded married spouses. She is asking that common law spouses have the right to claim alimony, the use of the family residence, the family patrimony and the matrimonial regime of partnership of acquests. She is supported in her case by the FAFMRQ (Fédération des Associations de Familles Monoparentales et Recomposées du Québec) and LEAF (the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund).
Opposing her are Eric’s legal team, even though not much money is at stake for him given his extensive fortune, and the Attorney General of Quebec, which takes the position that common law spouses should organize their own affairs without legal rules applying to them.
In Quebec, 62% of children are born out of wedlock, for a total of about 54-56% of babies being born to common law couples (the remaining 6-8% are born to single mothers). Ultimately, it is this vast number of children who are disenfranchised when there is no legal protection provided to their mothers upon dissolution of their parents’ unions. Child support in Quebec is so low that it does not even begin to meet children’s needs, and the Quebec government has thus far staunchly refused to heed the Superior Court’s suggestion that they modernize their child support rules and increase the amounts to provide more economic protection to children.