Anne-France Goldwater is a Montreal family law lawyer, senior partner of the firm Goldwater, Dubé, having established the firm in 1981. She is a graduate of McGill University, and was called to the Bar in 1981. She has authored articles on parental alienation, custody relocation cases, and bankruptcy and family law, and has recently published lengthy articles on unjustified enrichment between common law spouses and the new legal challenges on filiation in cases of assisted reproduction.
Me Goldwater's practice highlights include establishing precedents on the recognition of parental alienation syndrome by the courts, the right of children to the attorney of their choice and to claim party status, as well as disparate children’s rights such as lump sum support and mandatory reinstatement in a private educational institution. She also successfully challenged federal and provincial laws forbidding marriage for same-sex couples, thereby obtaining the right of same-sex couples to marry.
She successfully challenged the validity of laws preventing women from executing their own alimony and child support orders. She advanced the protection of privacy rights in family matters in the context of paternity litigation. She has obtained the highest child support orders in Quebec, and the highest provisions for cost in a matrimonial matter.
She is perhaps best known for her success in the case of Eric vs. Lola, in which she successfully challenged the validity of laws denying common law spouses the right to claim spousal support upon separation, in a unanimous judgment of the Quebec Court of Appeal. However, the Supreme Court of Canada, in one of its most divided judgments in history, concluded to the constitutionality of the laws restricting alimony to married spouses. Indeed, although five out of nine justices concluded the complete failure to protect common law spouses was discriminatory, one of them considered this discrimination against common law spouses to be a “minimal impairment” of their Charter rights by the Quebec legislator.
She has also challenged the constitutionality of the Quebec Child Support Guidelines, and the Superior Court declared the Guidelines to be discriminatory toward women, but did not invalidate the law. The Quebec Court of Appeal, however, concluded that although the Quebec Child Support Guidelines are prejudicial and less generous than the Federal Child Support Guidelines, which are applicable across Canada, this did not amount to discrimination in the sense of the Charter toward Quebec children. She will soon be filing an application for leave to appeal from the Court of Appeal’s decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.
She has also assumed a very public role as The Arbitrator, a weekly television program produced by Groupe Télé-Vision for French broadcaster V.
She is fluent in English, French, Spanish and Yiddish.
Qualifications and Associations:
- Graduate of McGill University, Faculty of Law (B.C.L.), 1980
- Member of the Quebec Bar since 1981
- Member of the Association of Family Law Attorneys
Awards and Distinctions:
Canadian Bar Association SOGIC Ally Award, in 2003, for contributions made in the cause of equality for lesbian and gay couples
Litigation and Practice Highlights:
- Contesting constitutionality of Ottawa’s approval of Quebec Child Support Guidelines, thereby seeking applicability of Federal Child Support Guidelines to Quebec - Quebec Guidelines declared discriminatory under the Canadian Charter, but not invalidated (Judge Diane Marcelin) Droit de la famille — 111526, 2011 QCCS 2662 (CanLII); dismissed by the Quebec Court of Appeal in 2013 Droit de la famille — 139, 2013 QCCA 15 (CanLII); Leave application will be filed in Supreme Court of Canada.
- Obtained declaration of unconstitutionality of law restricting alimony to married spouses; law extended to common law spouses; unanimous decision of the Quebec Court of Appeal in Lola vs. Eric, in 2010 Droit de la famille — 102866, 2010 QCCA 1978 (CanLII); Dismissed by Supreme Court of Canada in a divided judgment in 2013 Quebec (Attorney General) v. A, 2013 SCC 5 (CanLII).
- Successful intervenor status on behalf of Women's Legal Education and Action Fund and DisAbled Women's Network Canada, contributing to resurrection of Willick test and substantial (and well-deserved) burial of Miglin, in 2011 L.M.P. vs L.S., 2011 CSC 64
- Successfully challenged failure of the Minister of Revenue of Quebec to collect spousal and child support orders against physicians and surgeons directly from the Régie de l'Assurance Maladie du Québec, and obtained court order requiring both levels of government to proceed to the collection of support order by automatic withholding of doctors' fees at source (Judge Marie-Christine Laberge), in 2011 Droit de la famille - 113647, 2011 QCCS 6247 (CanLII)
- Contesting constitutionality of Ottawa’s approval of Quebec Child Support Guidelines, thereby seeking applicability of Federal Child Support Guidelines to Quebec - Quebec Guidelines declared discriminatory under the Canadian Charter, but not invalidated (Judge Diane Marcelin) Droit de la famille — 111526, 2011 QCCS 2662 (CanLII); pending before the Court of Appeal, in 2011
- Successfully obtained an order of dismissal of divorce proceedings against a recalcitrant wife who refused to receive the ghet (Judge Lise Matteau); confirmed by the Court of Appeal, in 2011 Droit de la famille — 112747, 2011 QCCA 1580 (CanLII)
- Successfully pleaded a claim of unjustified enrichment for a widowed common law spouse, obtaining recognition in Quebec civil law of the substantial precedent of the Supreme Court in Kerr vs. Baranow (Judge Louise Lemelin), in 2011 Montreuil v. Jasmin (Succession de), 2011 QCCS 1032 (CanLII)
- Obtained declaration of unconstitutionality of law restricting alimony to married spouses; law extended to common law spouses; unanimous decision of the Court of Appeal in Lola vs. Eric, in 2010 Droit de la famille — 102866, 2010 QCCA 1978 (CanLII)
- Pleaded Bruker vs. Marcovitz before the Supreme Court, in 2006 Bruker v. Marcovitz, 2007 CSC 54,  3 RCS 607
- Obtained highest child support order in Quebec (Judge Ginette Piché), in 2006 (cumulative child support of over $ 650,000 per annum) A. vs. B., 2006 QCCS 2850 (CanLII)
- Obtained highest cumulative orders for provision for costs in a matrimonial matter (Judge Ginette Piché), in 2005 and 2006 A. vs. B., 2006 QCCS 2850 (CanLII)
- Advanced protection of privacy rights in family matters (sealing order, non-publication order), in context of paternity litigation between female same-sex couple and sperm donor (Judge André Prévost), in 2005
- Successfully contested validity of provincial law preventing women from executing their own alimony and child support orders, preventing women from having a say in negotiations between the MRQ and the alimentary debtor, and preventing women from having access to financial information about the alimentary debtor; unanimous decision of the Court of Appeal, in 2003 H.(J.) v. F.(W.), 2003 CanLII 47187 (QCCA)
- Sought and obtained recognition from the Court of Appeal of the rights of fathers to retain the exercise of their parental authority jointly with custodial mothers, no matter what the custodial arrangement is D.W. v. A.G., 2003 CanLII 47442 (QCCA)
- Successfully contested constitutionality of federal and provincial laws forbidding marriage for same-sex couples, thereby obtaining right of same-sex couples to marry (Judge Louise Lemelin), in 2002 Hendricks v. Québec (Procureur général), 2002 CanLII 23808 (QC CS)
- Won mandatory injunction against private school to order reinstatement of student (Judge Pepita Capriolo), in 2000 (first time ever granted in Quebec)
- Successfully executed and maintained seizures on intra-corporate assets for an inter-spousal claim against one of the corporate shareholders in 1999
- Won right of minor children to party status, as well as to independent legal representation of their choice Droit de la famille - 2224, 1995 CanLII 4607 (QC CA), as well as the right to petition for support on their own behalf within matrimonial litigation (various judgments, at trial and appellate level, in several cases), 1994 to 1999
- Established right to force disposition of matrimonial assets at provisional stage, 1996, 1998
- Won right of athlete to participate on Canadian Olympic Team in Barcelona, in 1994
- Sought and obtained recognition from Court of Appeal of right of common law "wife" to claim provision for costs for legal fees to defend against custody claim by ex-partner (Supreme Court denied his request for leave to appeal) Droit de la famille - 1602, 1992 CanLII 3243 (QCCA)
- Won largest lump sum alimentary award for a spouse, in 1992
- Established right of minor children to lump sum alimentary support, in 1992
- Established recognition of Parental Alienation Syndrome before the Quebec courts, in 1991
- Established right of common law spouses to claim provisions for costs, in 1991
- Won right of spouse to claim property rights in lieu of alimentary support, in 1991
Publications and Conferences:
- Jurisclasseur Québec: Personnes et famille: Chapter 25, Child Support, in collaboration with Me Marie-Hélène Dubé, 2010
- Led Conferences on La Grande Perturbation: Nouveaux Défis en Droit de Filiation, sponsored by CCH, October 20 and November 03 2009
- Midi-Conférence on the Rights of Common Law Couples, University of Ottawa, September 22 2009
- Led Conferences on Unjustified Enrichment between De Facto Spouses: A Renewal of the Law, or History being Re-Written?, sponsored by CCH, on May 07 and 08 2008, and on October 23 and November 04 2008
- Conference on Bruker vs. Marcovitz, sponsored by Canadian Friends of Hebrew University, on February 21 2008 (in Toronto)
- Led Conferences on Long Distance Custody Cases, for Family Law Conferences on September 18 and 19 1997 (in Montreal and Quebec City)
- Article on Long Distance Custody Cases - Are the Child’s Best Interests Kept at a Distance?, published in Recent Developments in Family Law, Editions Yvon Blais, 1997, page 1
- Led Conferences on Bankruptcy and Family Law, for Conferences on Recent Developments in Family Law on March 20 and March 21 1997 (in Montreal and Quebec City)
- Article on Bankruptcy and Family Law, published in The Canadian Family Law Quarterly, Carswell Publishing [cited at: (1997) 15 C.F.L.Q. 139] and Recent Developments in Family Law, Editions Yvon Blais, 1997, page 339
- Invited Guest teacher for Psychology and the Law lectures, at Dawson College, 1993-1997
- Participation and presentation of a consultative memoire on the alimentary obligation of grand parents, at public hearings conducted by the Minister of Justice Paul Bégin, on March 29 1996
- Speeches at the "Women Survivors of Family Violence Group" organized by Batshaw Youth and Family Centres, 1994-1996
- Led Conference on Parental Alienation Syndrome, presented to Groupe d’entraide aux pères, May 23 1995
- Article on The Code of Civil Procedure (with respect to provisional execution in appeal), publishes in the Bar Journal, vol. 26, no. 6, April 1 1994
- Article on The Code of Civil Procedure (with respect to provisional execution in appeal), publishes in the Bar Journal, vol. 26, no. 5, March 15 1994
- Workshop Animator on Career Choices for women attorneys, organized by the Women and the Law Committee of the University of Montreal Law Faculty, with the then Bâtonnier of the Bar, Honourable Justice Claudette Picard, February 2 1995
- Moderator of Debate on New Reproductive Technologies, Concordia University, February 17 1993
- Led Conference on Parental Alienation Syndrome, presented at International Congress on the Child, October 09 1992
- Led Conference on Parental Alienation Syndrome, for Conferences on Recent Developments in Family Law, on September 25 and 27 1991 (Montreal and Quebec City)
- Lecturer on Parental Alienation Syndrome, for Corporation of Psychologists, May 16 1991
- Article on Parental Alienation Syndrome, published in Recent Developments in Family Law, Editions Yvon Blais, 1991, page 121