LEAF at Home addresses equality rights issues in the home including different gender roles prior to, during and after marriage/family relationship breakdown. The equal sharing of the economic consequences of relationship breakdown and court orders for child and spousal support help to ensure greater fairness for women at home. Women generally face greater economic hardship after relationship breakdown than men. It is essential that courts recognize the different circumstances of women.
Family Law Booklet
Equality Rights in Family Law: Spousal and Child Support. This booklet provides an overview of some of the changes to spousal and child support laws since the Charter.
Examples of LEAF Interventions Related to Equality Rights in the Home
Spouse in the House
Falkiner et al. v. The Queen (2002) is an Ontario Court of Appeal case in which LEAF intervened. At issue were Ontario’s social assistance regulations, which assumed that if a social assistance recipient lived with a person of the opposite sex, the two were spouses, each of whom had access to the income of the other person. In other words, those receiving social assistance were presumed to have access to their spouse’s income and were therefore cut off. The Ontario Court of Appeal found that the “spouse in the house rule” discriminated on the basis of sex, since women comprise almost 90% of those who were cut off social assistance because of the definition.
Moge v. Moge (1992) is a Supreme Court of Canada case in which LEAF intervened, playing an important role in the Court’s recognition that women take primary responsibility for child rearing and household work and therefore experience significant long term economic disadvantage on separation or divorce. The Court ruled that Ms. Moge, who had been mainly a homemaker, was entitled to ongoing spousal support from her husband. The Court made the connection between women’s role as caregivers and the feminization of poverty.
Equal Rights for Same Sex Couples
M. v. H (1999) is a Supreme Court of Canada case involving the application of the Ontario Family Law Act. The opposite-sex definition of spouse in the Act denied spousal support payments to “M” at the termination of her 10 year same sex relationship, during which she had lived with her partner. The Supreme Court of Canada held that the opposite-sex definition of spouse discriminated against same-sex couples and was not a reasonable limit under the Charter.