Which definition of spouse to apply determined in recent British Columbia Court of Appeal case
Newton v. Crouch
Family law --- Marriage — Miscellaneous
2016 CarswellBC 672
British Columbia Court of Appeal
Spousal relationship — Appellant and Respondent cohabitated from 2005-2012 — At time of separation, unmarried partners were not entitled to property division under Family Relations Act (FRA) — Prior to Family Law Act (FLA) married persons could claim for property division under FRA, but unmarried partners had to rely on equitable doctrines of unjust enrichment and constructive trust to deal with property division — Appellant brought application for declaration that provisions governing division of property between spouses in Part 5 of FLA did not apply to parties — FLA was not in force when parties separated — Application was dismissed — Appellant appealed — Appeal dismissed — Issue was whether appellant was entitled to remedy for property division under either FRA or FLA — Legislature intended FLA spouse definition to be applied to facts preceding its enactment — FLA definition on its face required consideration of matters that preceded its enactment to determine if party attained status of spouse — Status of spouse could be based on events that predated enactment of FLA without creating retroactive effect — Merely because status, with respect to prospective determination of rights was ascertained at time preceding passage of enactment, was not interference with vested rights.