04 September 2012

Trio Tie the Knot in Brazil

CNN reports that a public notary in Brazil has "set off a firestorm" by granting a civil union registration to a trio composed of one man and two women. According to the article, the three live together and love one another like persons in any other cohabiting relationship, and granting the registration will give the trio the legal benefits of marriage and recognition as a family unit.

This raises of course, a question that has been waiting to be raised in British Columbia for some time now. The Family Relations Act defines "spouse" as including married spouses and persons for have "lived with another person in a marriage-like relationship for a period of at least 2 years." Nothing in this definition says that you can't be living with more than one person in a marriage-like relationship, although I think you would have to read the definition as establishing separate spousal relationships among the parties to the relationship. In other words, A would be in a spousal relationship with B while simultaneously being a spousal relationship with C, and B and C would have a spousal relationship of their own. The definition of spouse in the Family Law Act also allows for this eventuality.

The point, of course, is that being in a spousal relationship provides certain legal entitlements that arise on the breakdown of that relationship. Under the Family Relations Act these involve spousal support and obligations in respect of stepchildren. Under the Family Law Act, unmarried spouses will also be entitled to share in family property.

My thanks to my friend and colleague Agnes Huang for sharing the CNN article with me.

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