# 2013-068 - Common-law Partnership

Common-law Partnership

Case Summary

F&R Date: 2013–11–27

The grievor complained that her attempts to obtain recognition of her Common-law relationship based on a specific date were unfairly denied. The grievor had submitted application for recognition of her common-law status to her section head along with a statutory declaration that she had been in a conjugal relationship for one year. The section head declined to witness the declaration on the basis that the grievor and her partner had maintained separate military residences during part of that year. The grievor later resubmitted her application to take effect from the date she and her partner commenced maintaining only one residence. This application also failed to achieve approval. Finally, she submitted a third application based on her partner providing support to one of her children. Subsequently, her application was approved by a different Commanding Officer (CO) effective the originally requested date. However, this approval was later rescinded on the advice of the local Assistant Judge Advocate General.

The Initial Authority, the grievor's CO, denied the grievance on the basis that it had not been established that her partner had assumed support of her children and because there was no proof of cohabitation for a period of one year.

With regard to the original application, the Committee noted that it was open to the CO to seek the advice of the Directorate of Human Rights and Diversity (DHRD) as the policy subject matter experts, was of the opinion that had such a consultation occurred, the issue may well have been resolved in the grievor's favour.

Specifically, the Committee observed that the primary reason for rejecting the application was the couple's maintenance of two residences. The Committee disagreed with the Initial Authority's statement that the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) would not recognize that the grievor and her partner were living together if they maintained separate residences, noting that the Chief of Military Personnel Instruction 15/06 -Common-law Partnerships, clearly states that cohabitation may be considered in such circumstances if there is a reasonable explanation. This position was also supported by the DHRD subject matter experts. The Committee was satisfied that the grievor provided a reasonable explanation that ought to have been accepted and found that the grievor's original application should have been accepted and approved.

The Committee recommended that the Chief of the Defence Staff uphold the grievance by recognizing the grievor's common-law relationship effective the date specified in her initial application and by directing that her personnel records be amended accordingly. The Committee further recommended that the grievor's relocation file be audited to ensure she has received all the benefits to which she was entitled as a CAF member with a common-law partner.

CDS Decision Summary

CDS Decision Date: 2014–11–21

The FA agreed with the Committee's findings and recommendation that the grievance be upheld.

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