The Causal Connection Test in Spousal Support Law
Canadian Journal of Family Law, Vol. 8, pp. 95-132, 1989
38 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2010
Date Written: 1989
The philosophy behind causal connection is that spousal support should redress those economic needs flowing from or caused by the marriage and the economic inter-relationship which developed between the spouses during the marriage. Conversely, spousal support should not be expected to redress economic needs which do not flow from the marital relationship. This concept, developed in the late 1960s, was best articulated in the Law Reform Commission of Canada's 1975 working paper on "Maintenance after Divorce". The general idea of a causal connection in spousal support has not found its way into legislation, but it has been upheld in a trilogy of recent Supreme Court of Canada cases. This paper reviews the legislation and case law to date, and explores the range, extent and reasons for compensation and support. The author argues that, properly used, the causal connection test is an interpretative device for determining the amount and duration of support. This falls somewhere between the traditional "pension-for-life" model and the more recent hard-nosed literal causal connection analysis.
Keywords: causal connection, spousal support, marriage, compensation, economic needs
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