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For the Purposes of Inheritance Can a Person Have More Than One Spouse?

The lawyers in this video discuss the circumstance where the deceased had a relationship with someone outside of their marriage who wants her “fair” share of the inheritance. The video discusses the second “wife’s” entitlement under the Succession Law Reform Act and case law.


So a man dies.  His family buries him. And they go home. They’re alone in their kitchen. The mother and the two daughters.  And they’re crying. The mother misses her husband and the daughters, they miss their dad.

And all of a sudden, there is a knock at the door. The daughter goes and she answers the door. And standing before her is a woman about her mother’s age. And the lady says to the daughter,

“Excuse me, did your father just pass away”?

And the daughter says, “Why, yes.  He just did.  We just buried him”.

So the lady says, “Let me introduce myself.  I’m your father’s wife”.

And the daughter looks at her.  She’s incredulous. She says, “Lady, you’re crazy my father was married to my mother who’s sitting in the kitchen right now, crying over the loss of her husband, with my sister”.

And the Lady says, “Young woman…on the weekends your father was here with your mother and his two daughters. During the week he was with me.  He was sleeping in my bed. I’m his other wife.  And I want my fair share of the inheritance”.

And not only that,” she pulls a young lady next to her and she says: “This is your sister. Your half-sister.  You must notice that she looks a lot like you and a lot like your father. We deserve our fair share”.

Now, in Ontario, the law is that person can have more than two wives for the purposes of support.

Isn’t that bigamy? Isn’t it bad enough that she gets to steal her husband and now she’s entitled to the money.

So I understand the question, by the way, that’s a pretty sharp question. You should have been a lawyer.

Professor McLeod wrote an article on the Mahoney case. And in that article, where a second wife, so to speak, was entitled to support. He bemoaned the fact that we’re supposed to be supporting family and morality.

How can we do that if we allow a second wife to get support?

But in Ontario, there’s case law that recognizes the fact that when a man or a woman enter into an intimate relationship with another person.

Regardless if they’re legally married or not, responsibilities flow from that relationship. And it’s not up to Canada and it’s not up to the province of Ontario. And it’s not up to the city of Toronto to make up that shortfall of what that person needs for support. With actions, flow responsibilities.

Now, these cases aren’t simple.  They’re complex and the facts specific to the case will often make the difference. But that’s why a lot of these things end up in court.

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This blog is not intended to serve as a comprehensive treatment of the topic. It is not meant to be legal advice. Every case turns on its specific facts and it would be a mistake for the reader of this blog to conclude how it might impact on the reader’s case. Nothing replaces retaining a qualified, competent lawyer, well versed in this niche area of practice and getting some good legal advice.
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