‘Lola’ continues fight for common-law alimony

Aug 18, 2009 04:30 AM
ANDREW CHUNG
QUEBEC BUREAU

MONTREAL–On behalf of all Quebec women, "Lola" is going to appeal.

Having lost her case in Quebec Superior Court as she attempted to win spousal support from her high-profile, billionaire common-law ex-husband, the former model is steadying for a long fight – all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada if necessary.

"In this case she has no right to ask for anything," her lawyer, Anne-France Goldwater, said yesterday. "So what this case is about is the right to ask."

Lola and "Eric," as they have been branded since their identities cannot be revealed to protect the three children they had together, fought bitterly last winter in court with Eric accusing Lola of trying to smear his reputation, amid allegations of a lifestyle filled with drugs and partying.

During their seven years living together, Lola claimed she wanted to get married. Eric testified frankly that it wasn’t his "cup of tea."

Judge Carole Hallee ruled against Lola last month, saying there wasn’t evidence unmarried partners were being discriminated against, and that to recognize all couples in a relationship of permanence as "married" would deny people the choice not to marry.

Goldwater said this argument is spurious. She said when people meet and fall in love, they don’t think about lawyers.

If people choose not to marry, as many in Quebec do, she said, "we want these couples not to be punished for failing to follow the traditional path of marrying."

Quebec is the only province that does not recognize common-law unions, and such spouses have no right to alimony – a scenario that has the greatest impact on women.

Such spouses also have no right to division of assets, or an inheritance if the partner dies. All other provinces grant alimony, and a few give the same rights as married couples.

Lola, a Brazilian who met Eric in 1992 when she was 17 and he was 32, receives about $35,000 monthly in child support from the man, who also pays for a cook, two nannies and a driver.

She was seeking a lump sum payment of $50 million and $56,000 a month in spousal support – but first she had to change the law.

Goldwater said the amounts are irrelevant, and in fact garnered "negative attention from the public."

But she said the point is to fight for the countless women who couldn’t pay for a case like this to be heard.

"If you knew how many letters and emails I’ve received from women in terrible situations in life but they just don’t have the means to undertake a case like this."

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/682433

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