In a unique legal battle, two women in Quebec fought over their husband’s pension. What made this case unique? They were both legally married to him when he died.
Unbeknownst to him, Barry Myers, the man in the middle of this controversy, was legally married to his first wife when he re-married.
He married his first wife in 1961. They had three children. They separated in 1989, but while they filed a petition for divorce, a final divorce decree was not made. According to Quebec divorce law at that time, the divorce was not final.
Mr. Myer, believing he was a single man, married again in 2002. He and his second wife were married when he died in 2009. Or were they?
His death led to turmoil for his surviving family. His children discovered that he had remarried and had cut them out of his will. His first wife discovered that their divorce was never finalized.
Mr. Myers’ wives began a legal battle over his pension and survivor benefits that are payable to the spouse of a deceased.
The Superior Court of Quebec found that the first marriage was valid until his death, making his second marriage invalid.
The Quebec Court of Appeal overturned the decision on the issue of the pension, saying the Superior Court lacked the jurisdiction to make that decision.
The pension centre decided to split the pension between the women based on how many years they lived with the deceased.
The second wife appealed to the Federal Court. The Federal Court found that the pension centre did the best it could in the circumstances:
"The pension centre did not have the power or discretion to ignore the still valid marriage between (the first wife) and Mr. Myers because of the unusual circumstances of the case.".