Attention married couples, a reform of family law is not only aimed at common law spouses. Parents, regardless of the type of union, are also challenged by consultations led by Justice Minister Sonia LeBel.
From March 15 until June 28, Quebec is surveying citizens to modernize and adjust family law to the highly diverse conjugal and family realities of 2019.
Yes, it is a question of filling the legal void surrounding the common-law relationship. But, it is also envisaged to review the binding nature of marriage. The latter would always entail the application of rights and obligations, but spouses could evade them by mutual agreement by means of a marriage contract. Future and old couples could take advantage of it.
What was needed in the 1980s to protect spouses who were not very active in the labor market and were less financially independent is probably less so today.
In 1976, 25% of mothers with a child under the age of six were employed. In 2018, 75%.
In the early 1970s, 90% of women and men would marry at least once in their lifetime. Since the mid-2000s, 30% have made this choice.
The ministry also recalls that the proportion of births from a common-law couple now exceeds 55%.
In 2019, a reform would primarily aim to protect the interests and rights of children, whether their parents are married or common-law partners when their relationship ends.
It is no longer marital status that determines whether the parties in a couple have obligations to each other, but to having a child in common.
Quebec is talking about a “mandatory parenting plan”. The ministry is probing Quebeckers’ interest in a new “parental compensatory allowance” mechanism. This, the ministry’s document explains, would allow the parent who has become impoverished because of his or her role in caring for one child to obtain fair economic compensation from the other parent.
Online consultation with strong documentation and synthesis. Public consultation in 11 Quebec cities.
The Caquist minister is sparing no effort to undertake a reform that has been needed for years. Previous governments procrastinated, leaving couples and children to rely on the courts.
Even though Minister LeBel does not commit to revising everything in this mandate, it will become difficult, both in a second term and for another party to take power, to ignore the opinions gathered during consultations and to next work started.
Alain Roy, a law professor at the Université de Montréal and chair of the Advisory Committee on Family Law, who submitted a series of recommendations to the Couillard government in 2015, is confident. “The government is obviously serious,” he says.
The professor expects heated debate and paradoxes. The minister too.
“I am aware that reforming family law will bring about disruption in many aspects of married and family life, it is a subject that affects us all and is very emotional,” she said at a meeting. press conference announcing regional consultations.
According to Alain Roy, the government must go ahead even if the file is very complex and touches sensitive cords.
If Quebec has managed to discuss medical aid in dying and adopt a law on end-of-life care – a very complex and emotional subject as well – it believes that it can bring about a reform of the law of a family that will better reflect the values of autonomy and freedom of Quebeckers and the social norms of today.
“We must put aside our bearings from the past. We must have our daughters in mind and not our mothers.