Quebec Judge Argues His Wife Isn’t Entitled to Half of His Pension Under Equitable Distribution Type Legal Framework

Quebec couple married for twelve years, after living together for seven years. Husband is more than 20 years older than Wife.

Husband is a judge. Wife is a perpetual student, working temporary and/or part-time jobs from time to time during the marriage.

Husband has accumulated nearly one million dollars in retirement savings, most of it during the marriage.

Quebec apparently has a property division framework similar to the equitable distribution principles in effect in Florida and many other US states, with marital property generally being divided equally unless there are special circumstances.

Husband contended that this was such a case and that it would be unjust to divide his pension evenly because Wife hadn’t contributed financially to the marriage and he had borne most of the financial responsibilities in the marriage. Sort of an attempted revival of a bygone legal standard for property division.

At trial, the Court rejected Husband’s argument and gave the Wife half of the portion of Husband’s pension that was marital.

On appeal, the intermediate level appellate court reversed.

On the second tier appeal, the Supreme Court reversed again, holding that equal division of the marital portion of Husband’s pension was not so inequitable as to warrant setting aside the trial court’s ruling. The court looked to the fact that it was a joint decision of the marital partnership that Wife go to school and only work part-time or sporadically.

Read more in this Montreal Gazette article: Judge’s ex entitled to half his pension.