Ask the Hammer

Every year or so we hear rumblings of the Government wanting to “modernize” the family law system in Quebec. Nothing is broken – as I will explain further on – but our fearless new Leaders want to make their mark and wade into the Civil Code articles with regards to what goes on in your households.

All this uproar started circa 2013, in particular, during and after the infamous case of Eric-vs-Lola. This couple was not married. He was super R-I-C-H, she wasn’t. They had three (3) children. They split.

She wanted $50,000+ per month, plus plus plus. The problem was, and some will say is, that there is no spousal support obligation in Quebec currently that would have allowed her in law to make this claim. The case proceeded through all levels of the Court system (1st instance, Appeal and finally the Supreme Court).

Eric’s pretension that he did not owe Lola for anything other than child support was upheld. This is not to say child support from a billionaire is anything to sneeze at. But various groups rose up demanding that the law be modified to provide for alimentary support between non married couples. Committees were formed. Briefs were filed. Nothing changed.

Now again the process is being reactivated with public consultations. The groups will rise again, briefs will be filed. And if we are lucky nothing again will change.

Why lucky?  Because as I have written and commented on for years, non married couples currently may avail themselves of more rights than married couples IF they enter into cohabitation contracts before moving in together. And if they don’t, then those couples who intentionally chose not to have a contract should be bound by their choice to opt out.

Quebec, we continually are reminded, is a distinct society. Let’s stay that way in our relationships.

Either conclude a tailor-made contract that represents your life together, or don’t. But let’s not allow the Government to legislate what presently you non married couples have in the way of freedoms.

Remember, children are always protected; regardless of the status of their parents. This is about Alimentory support for your “mate” if you split up (or should I say when?!). Married couples can’t contract out of the Family Patrimony rules as they are public order here and override all other contracts. Non married couples can have clauses dealing with that type of Patrimony and their contract will be the Law of Their Land (so to speak).

So I ask again – as I always do – why would you want to have your rights and freedoms even more constrained than they currently are in every other sector?

Instead, if the Government truly wanted to “help” its citizens it should strengthen our educational system to teach people early on what to do and not do. Maybe even add courses about family law for those wishing to immigrate here. There are many options and safeguards already built into our laws. We just need to ensure that people know how to best use them for their lives!

Me. Hammerschmid has practiced Family Law since 1982; Senior Partner at Hammerschmid & Associates; founding & current member of Family Law Association of Quebec (past Secretary for 28 years). Inquiries treated confidentially: 514-846-1013 or [email protected] © 2019 Linda Hammerschmid