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Relational Contract and Other Models of Marriage

Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Vol. 40, p. 1, 2002

48 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2008  

Robert Leckey

McGill University - Faculty of Law


This article proposes relational contract as a model for analyzing marriage under Canadian law. In contrast, in Bracklow v. Bracklow, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized two "competing" models of marriage and three models of spousal support. The difficult policy issues in the law of spousal support relate not to a tension between different models but instead go to compensation, including reliance and expectations. This article uses relational contract to critique Bracklow, considering the challenges in defining models. The Court's basic social obligation model and its non-compensatory support are unjustifiably broad, and its compensatory support is too narrow. In assessing the extent to which competing models give couples flexibility in customizing their relationships, the article discerns in Bracklow the emergence of new notions of public order in the sphere of marriage and a sense of not only procedural, but also substantive, justice.

Keywords: marriage, divorce, family law, relational contract, Bracklow, Canada

JEL Classification: K12, K19, K30, K39

Suggested Citation

Leckey, Robert, Relational Contract and Other Models of Marriage. Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Vol. 40, p. 1, 2002. Available at SSRN:

Robert Leckey (Contact Author)

McGill University - Faculty of Law ( email )

3644 Peel Street
Montreal H3A 1W9, Quebec
514-398-4148 (Phone)
514-398-4659 (Fax)

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