This case concerned entitlement to spousal support.  

LEAF, in partnership with DisAbled Women’s Network Canada (DAWN) intervened before the Supreme Court of Canada. 

Facts 

L.M.P. and L.S. were married in 1988. Shortly after that, L.M.P. was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She did not work outside the home after that point. The two separated in 2002, and entered into an agreement under which L.M.P. was to receive spousal support on an indefinite basis. There was no requirement that she seek employment. 

In 2007, L.S. applied to a court to ultimately eliminate his spousal support obligations because L.M.P. had not become self-sufficient. The trial judge concluded L.M.P. was able to work outside the home, and made an order that would terminate her spousal support in 2010. The Québec Court of Appeal dismissed L.M.P.’s appeal. L.M.P. appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. 

Arguments 

LEAF and DAWN argued that ending L.M.P.’s spousal support would represent a backwards shift in family law to a “clean break” approach to support. This would ignore the economic disadvantage experienced by women during relationship breakdowns, resulting from their caregiving roles and systemic inequalities in the labour market. It would also ignore the contributions of women with disabilities to their families, and the particular needs of and barriers faced by these women.  

Outcome 

The Supreme Court allowed L.M.P.’s appeal and restored the initial spousal support order. There had been no material change in L.M.P.’s circumstances since the agreement had been completed, and so there was no basis on which to vary the order.  

LEAF is grateful to Anne-France Goldwater and Robert Leckey, counsel in this case, as well as Nadia Effendi, Ottawa agent for LEAF and DAWN.

Download the factum here.   

Read the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision here

Our records are imperfect, but we are doing our best to update them – if you were involved with LEAF on this case but your name is not reflected here, please email us at [email protected].