R.N.S. v. K.S., 2013 BCCA 406, we get an interesting glimpse into the regional differences that exist with regard to family law legislation in Canada. The R.N.S. case concerns the recognition of a foreign divorce order in British Columbia and a spouse’s right to claim spousal support in British Columbia given the foreign divorce.
In R.N.S., the parties were divorced in the state of Western Australia and one spouse sought to have that divorce recognized in British Columbia, and also sought an order for spousal support.
The Court of Appeal canvassed authorities from other provinces, including Ontario, which state that a spouse is precluded from seeking spousal support after the recognition of a foreign divorce (e.g., Okmyansky v. Okmyansky, 2007 ONCA 427). This is because the Ontario Family Law Act‘s definition of “spouse” excludes “former spouse”.
However, in British Columbia, the definition of “spouse” in the Family Law Act includes a “former spouse”. Thus, in British Columbia, a foreign-divorced spouse is entitled to apply for spousal support.
While family law legislation is quite similar province to province, subtle differences such as the definition of “spouse” can lead to drastically different results.