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Article
What is Marriage-Like Like? The Irrelevance of Conjugality
Canadian Journal of Family Law. Volume 18, Number 2 (2001), p. 269-326.
  • Brenda Cossman
  • Bruce Ryder, Osgoode Hall Law School of York University
Document Type
Article
Publication Date
1-1-2001
Keywords
  • Conjugality,
  • interdependence,
  • non-marital cohabitation,
  • sexual component,
  • spousal definition
Abstract
While the notion of conjugal or marriage-like has become legally ubiquitous in the regulation of non-marital cohabitation in Canada, its meaning remains elusive. A review of the case law and of spousal definitions in income security schemes reveals that the presence or absence of a sexual component to a relationship has become immaterial to, or of declining relevance in, the determination of conjugality. As a result, legal decision-makers have had to grapple with the increasing instability of the distinction between conjugal and non-conjugal relationships. The question of whether a relationship has a sexual component bears no relation to legitimate state objectives. As a result, the distinction between conjugal and non-conjugal relationships is collapsing as a coherent basis for legal policy. It thus becomes necessary to develop better ways of determining when and how adult personal relationships ought to be recognized in the law. Rather than continuing on the elusive quest for marriage equivalence, it is necessary to reformulate relational definitions to focus more precisely on the kinds of emotional and economic interdependence relevant to the objectives of particular laws.
Creative Commons License
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0
Citation Information
Cossman, Brenda, and Bruce Ryder. "What is Marriage-Like Like? The Irrelevance of Conjugality." Canadian Journal of Family Law 18.2 (2001): 269-326.