Provincial act for unmarried couples under review
The Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia says it is going to examine whether the provincial law that governs marriage should apply to common-law couples.
The advisory group says the review is prompted by a Supreme Court of Canada decision last week that said Quebec is not required to include common-law couples in its matrimonial property legislation.
That decision has placed the often contentious issue back with provincial governments.
The commission says some argue that under existing law in Nova Scotia, partners in common-law relationships aren't properly protected when property is divided in the event of a breakup.
On the other hand, the commission also says that some common-law couples may choose to remain unmarried in order to avoid the financial and property sharing obligations of married couples after a separation.
In Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut, and Northwest Territories, legislation regards common-law couples as spouses for purposes of dividing family property.
British Columbia has recently introduced changes to include common-law couples as well.
In those provinces common-law couples can also opt out of the legislative regime by mutual agreement.
The commission will examine the laws in other jurisdictions, and public perceptions of the rights and obligations of common-law spouses.
The commission also says in a news release it will look at the financial consequences of breakups for both types of relationships, including the interests of children of the relationship.
The Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia is an independent advisory body which makes recommendations for changes to Nova Scotia law.
Its findings are not binding.