Quebec to take 'Lola' to Supreme Court

Quebec will appeal a decision concerning the rights of unmarried couples to the Supreme Court of Canada, Justice Minister Jean-Marc Fournier announced Wednesday.

The Quebec woman known as "Lola" had won a partial victory in her constitutional challenge to get unmarried couples treated the same as married couples when their relationships end.

In November, Quebec's Court of Appeal invalidated a section of the province's civil code that guarantees support payments only in cases involving people who are married or in civil unions.

Fournier said the province wants the Supreme Court to hear its appeal of that decision, and to provide the government with clear instructions should it decide to uphold the decision.

"Before breaking away from the legislative choices made in recent decades, which have always given priority to the individual wishes of the parties, we need clarification from the Supreme Court," said Fournier.

Lola, who can't be named to protect the identity of her children, has been seeking a $50-million, lump-sum payment from her former spouse, a well-known Quebec businessman known as 'Eric', and $56,000 a month in alimony.

Lola took her case to the Quebec Superior Court in 2009, where a judge rejected her claims, saying that under existing law partners in a common-law relationship have no rights, no duties and no responsibilities to each other - no matter how many years they've lived together.

Lola appealed, and in early November, Quebec's Court of Appeal ruled in her favor, giving the province one year to change the law.

Lola's lawyer Anne-France Goldwater said she is surprised the government didn't follow the Court of Appeal's instructions.

"I find it's a bit cowardly to say we're going to go to the Supreme Court ... I think that the government is scared to take a position," said Goldwater.

The Court of Appeal did not rule on Lola's damages, preferring instead to send the matter back to Quebec Superior Court for a decision on how much "Eric" owes her.

Fluid family structures

Lola was 17 when she met the then-32-year-old entrepreneur with whom she spent 10 years. They had three children together but never married.

About 1.2 million people in Quebec live together without marrying, and an estimated 60 per cent of Quebec children are now born outside of marriage unions.

A study released Wednesday by the Quebec Statistics Institute found that almost a quarter of Quebec children experience a change in their family structure from birth to six years of age.

The study also found that 28 per cent of children six and under have lived with a single parent.

Read the judgment here :

(in French only)


Article Source : CBC NEWS


Date : Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Last Updated on Friday, 13 May 2011 11:10