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Family law

Family law Quebec Rulings Weekend reads

Ex-wife of wealthy businessman author of her own misfortune

In the end she was done in by spite, and greed.

She is the ex-wife of a wealthy Quebec businessman who had sought to maintain an exceptionally privileged and luxurious lifestyle, and fought tooth and nail. She hired and fired more than half a dozen lawyers all the while waging a relentless, and ultimately, vain legal battle to find hidden assets ostensibly stashed away by her husband. She frittered away about $4 million in legal and expert expenses, only for the case to be heard ex parte. She did not show up at trial nor was she was she represented by a lawyer.…

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Family law Quebec

Family law reform dropped by Quebec government

A government-mandated committee report that called for sweeping reforms of Quebec’s family law regime has all but been sidelined, making it the second the comprehensive report that the Quebec government has quietly shelved over the past month.

Quebec Minister of Justice Stéphanie Vallée recently testified before a parliamentary commission that the provincial government is now reviewing its position over family law reforms.…

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Canada Charter of Rights and Freedoms Family law Rulings

Ruling extends spousal immunity to common-law spouses

The common law rule against spousal compellability must be extended to common-law spouses because otherwise it would result in “blatant discrimination” that cannot be countenanced in the age of the Charter, held the Alberta Court of Appeal in a ruling that will most likely have persuasive authority in spite of a bill introduced in Parliament that will abolish spousal immunity, according to legal experts.

In a unanimous ruling described by legal observers as very well-written and well-reasoned, the Alberta Court of Appeal upheld a lower court decision that concluded that the existing common law rule was discriminatory and inconsistent with modern values of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.…

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Civil Code of Quebec Family law Quebec Court of Appeal Rulings

Youth protection authorites admonished by appeal court

Admonished by the Quebec Court of Appeal for single-mindedly trying to place a child before giving an opportunity to the parents to fulfill their parental responsibilities, youth protection authorities now face a more stringent test before envisioning adoption as a “solution to a difficult situation.” In overturning a lower court ruling that authorized youth protection authorities to proceed with the placement of a child for adoption, the appeal court also provided guidance to courts of first instances, reminding them that they have a responsibility to question decisions made by youth protection, as is foreseen by the Youth Protection Act (Act). “The message I hope that will be heard by judges of first instances is that in matters relating to adoption, the appeal court is telling you that you can — and even must — ask questions because parents caught in those situations face a battle akin to David and Goliath,” said Michel Tétrault, a family law expert who teaches at the Université de Sherbrooke. “Parents feel they stand no chance when facing youth protection authorities and their armada of experts. But while judges should be more critical of decision-making by youth protection, this is a culture that must be developed.…

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Family law Quebec Court of Appeal Rulings Supreme Court of Canada

Mother wins battle to move to France with children

A lower court ruling that prohibited a French mother of two from moving from Quebec to her native country under penalty of losing custody was recently overturned by the Quebec Court of Appeal. In a unanimous ruling, the appeal court issued a warning to courts of first instance that they must be cautious when weighing the “undeniable contribution” of expert’s opinions and bear in mind that “questions over custody and the criteria of who should have right to custody are issues that also call for legal notions,” said Quebec Court of Appeal Judge France Thibeault.…

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Family law Quebec Court of Appeal Rulings Supreme Court of Canada

Appeal court takes tougher line on spousal support

When the Quebec Court of Appeal recently overturned an order that compelled a financial analyst to pay his ex-wife spousal support for an indefinite period, it caught family law experts by surprise. Even though s. 15.2(3) of the Divorce Act, which came into force in 1985, allows judges to make an order requiring a spouse to secure and pay his ex-spouse sums for a definite period or until a specified event occurs, the appeal court has traditionally shunned from applying such orders and almost always have overturned lower court rulings that issued that time-limited support orders, particularly if children are in the picture and the spouse – usually women – have been out of the workplace for a long time. “Lower court judges – and family lawyers — have a monolithic vision of the appeal court’s position regarding time-limited support,” noted Michel Tétrault, a Université de Sherbrooke professor and family law expert. “A court of first instance has very rarely imposed a timeline, unless the marriage lasted less than a few years and the spouse receiving the support clearly stated she had no willingness to work. Aside from those exceptions, it has been exceptionally rare for a lower court to…

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Civil Code of Quebec Court of Quebec Family law Quebec Court of Appeal

Surrogacy agreements illegal in Quebec

A woman who sought to be legally recognized as the mother of a child borne by a surrogate mother was thwarted by a Quebec Court judge who held that, unlike in the rest of Canada, surrogacy agreements are illegal in Quebec. “This child does not have a right to maternal filiation at any cost,” said Judge Michel Dubois in his 11-page ruling.…

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