- 2 weeks ago
A thread recently got heated, where a Bee commented that she was planning on asking her boyfriend of five years for funds post-separation to help start up her new life. There was a lot of clamor that she had put herself in the position by not getting married earlier, and that she was a gold digger for asking for funds she wasn’t legally entitled to.
I’m a lawyer. From my perspective, laws change all the time. I live in Alberta, Canada, and in January 2020 the Family Property Act came into play, which now treats adult interdependent partners (essentially people who have cohabited for three years plus) and married couples the same way. They did this as a matter of public policy – they found many Canadians no longer believed in marriage the same way as before, and by not recognizing the contributions many women made it was negatively impacting women disproportionately. This is what part of the report states:
“2016 Census data indicates that 320,260 Albertans consider themselves to be in common-law relationships. If common-law couples break up and cannot agree how to divide their property, they need to rely on complex judge-made law to divide their property. ALRI considers that the law of unjust enrichment is overly complicated, costly to litigate, and unpredictable. Legislated rules would better guide parties to make their own agreements and settle disputes.”
Even before we had legislation that governed family property, we had caselaw/precedence. Couples engaged in a joint family ventures were recognized, and while not automatically entitled to a 50/50 split, would still get a share of funds jointly earned. I ran a trial in 2019 where the parties had purchased a house (his downpayment, his name), but contributed equally to the mortgage for six years, and undertook massive renos – he did more of the physical work, but she still did a lot of it – sanding, painting, holding things for him to screw in, and she did all the cooking and cleaning. The judge gave her 40% of the increase of the home, recognizing that while technically in his name only, they had acted as if it was their home.
On March 1, 2021 the new Divorce Act will come into play across Canada – it now recognizes the impact family violence can have on children, and includes it as a consideration in determining parenting time. Family violence has been extended from physical abuse and now includes coercive and controlling behaviour. I strongly believe that by including this language, Canadians will take abusive relationships more seriously.
I try not to be too dramatic, but for argument’s sake, let’s do it –
Would you be telling black people to sit at the back of the bus in the 50s because they aren’t legally entitled to sit in the front?
When laws changed (or in future will change) to allow marijuana, will it change your attitude? (We saw a massive swing in public attitude).
Gay marriage was put through by the Courts when the majority of Canadians disapproved – a few years later almost everyone approves.
If America reforms its laws, will you change your attitude?