British Columbia Court of Appeal confirms that couple were spouses and the Family Law Act applies


Kylie Walman, was retained to go to the Court of Appeal on behalf of one of the parties in a family law dispute concerning whether he and his ex-partner were spouses.  The opposing party (she) took the matter to the BC Supreme Court arguing that the couple were not spouses and consequently the Family Law Act should not apply, which would require her to pay spousal support and the couples’ property be divided.  She lost at the Supreme Court and appealed the matter to the Court of Appeal.  We were successful and the Court of Appeal upheld the Supreme Court’s decision finding that the couple were indeed spouses, having lived together for more than two years in a “marriage-like” relationship.  The wife argued vigorously that the court should not find a spousal relationship unless it’s clear the couple intended to live as spouses and intended to have the same laws applied to them as are applied to married couples.  The Court of Appeal disagreed and held that determining whether a couple are spouses requires an examination of the nature and quality of the relationship.  The Court agreed that intention is important but it’s the intention to live together for an indeterminate amount of time, in a relationship similar to marriage; not the intention to be bound by particular laws.  The Court also made clear that after-the-fact statements or evidence about the parties’ intentions during the relationship will only be given weight where it’s consistent with other objective evidence regarding the nature of their relationship.   

She has now applied for leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.  A decision from the Supreme Court of Canada as to whether they will hear the matter is expected sometime between April – June 2016.