A person can claim spousal support under either the Divorce Act or the Family Law Act.
Under the Divorce Act, a claim for spousal support can only be successfully pursued if the parties were legally married. Mere living together does not establish a claim under the Divorce Act.
Under the Family Law Act, a claimant can pursue a claim for spousal support if it can be shown that (a) the parties were legally married OR the parties resided together in a “marriage like relationship” for a minimum period of 2 years.
What will make up a “marriage like relationship” is a question of fact and the courts will look to a variety of factors to determine if the parties lived together in a “marriage like relationship” such as:
- Did the parties live under the same roof;
- What were the sleeping arrangements as between the parties;
- Did anyone else live under the same roof;
- What was the parties’ respective behaviour towards preparation of meals, laundry, shopping, household chores – in other words did the parties perform any of these chores for the benefit of the other;
- What were the financial arrangements between the parties regarding shelter and household expenses;
- Did the parties file tax returns as single people or as common law;
- Were the parties Drivers’ Licences at the same address;
- Did the parties participate together in community or social activities and did they hold themselves out as being a couple at these events; and
- Did the parties have sexual relations and if so, were such relations conducted with the expectation of fidelity.
The list above is by no means exhaustive as the courts will consider other facts if deemed relevant but what is clear is that the mere existence of sexual relations between a couple does not automatically give rise to an obligation to pay spousal support as the length of the relationship and the facts surrounding the relationship will determine if spousal support will be payable.
If you or a loved one is in a relationship and you wonder if an entitlement or an obligation to pay spousal support has arisen, timely legal advice and representation can be had by contacting Vancouver/Burnaby family law lawyer Andrew Rebane at Resolutions Law Corporation, firstname.lastname@example.org or 778-372-7107