Expansion of the definition of “spouse” in the Family Law Act


On March 18, 2013, the Family Relations Act will be replaced with the Family Law Act. The new FLA introduces a new definition of spouse.

Under the current law, the FRA, a spouse is a person who: (1) is married to another person; or (2) lived with another person in a marriage-like relationship for a period of at least 2 years. Under the FLA, the same definitions apply, but a third category is created whereby a spouse is also a person who has lived in a marriage-like relationship (with no specified duration), if they have a child. This expansion only relates to spousal support obligations.

In the Estate law context, the Wills Variation Act’s definition of spouse includes only the first two definitions. At this time, there is no indication that the proposed new Estate legislation, WESA, will expand the definition of spouse. However, if there is  any broadening of the concept of spouse under the WVA will, the categories of people entitled to bring WVA actions.