June 2010
PFD | Family

The contribution of a new common law spouse

By Marie-Ève Dufort Lawyer

Many parents do not know which incomes will be taken into account by the court when determining child support after a separation. The custodial parent may have a new common law spouse. Should the court consider the income or contribution of this new spouse when determining child support?

It is important to note that a new spouse has no legal obligation towards the children of a previous relationship, unless he/she has played a significant role in the children's lives since birth.

In January 2010, the Court of Appeal (Droit de la famille - 1030 (2010 QCCA 58)) confirmed that a parent's new common law spouse had no obligation to provide support to his/her spouse's children. In fact, when determining child support, the new spouse's income or household contribution should not be taken into account.

In addition, if the parent has proven his/her inability to work, the contribution of his/her new spouse to the family cannot be used as an imputed income to determine child support. However, should a parent voluntarily reduce his/her income to live at the new spouse's expense, the situation may change, and the court may consider the parent's former income or ability to work when establishing the imputed income.

The parties are therefore responsible for child support. This obligation cannot be assigned to a new common law spouse.