Lecture and Texbook notes combined: Distribution of Marital Property and the Valuation of Domestic Labour

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Women's Studies
Women's Studies 2270A/B
Amanda J Porter

Distribution of Marital Property and the Valuation of Domestic Labour Murdoch v Murdoch 1973 All of the courts who heard this case ruled against Mrs Murdoch yo All the various levels of court said she had no entitlement to any assets that the couple had required in the husbands name over the course of the marriage o Because of these facts it was deemed that because the property was in her husbands name at the end of the marriage she was entitled to none Writing for the majority Martland acknowledged that spouses who undertake a robust share of ythe labour involved in supporting andor maintaining a household are entitled to an equal share of the matrimonial home upon the dissolution of the marriage Are spouses entitled to half of the business assets that are in the other spouses name y In effect to to the family farm and and business parts of which we acquired or ydeveloped during the marriage the properties were held in the husbands name An inheritance was used by the wife towards the acquisitions although evidence conflicted at this pointThe point of granting women these rightsis to effect substantive change yAll the instances where women may leave get deducted from her damages ie She may go on mat yleave may take time off to take care of her kids An underlying stereotype is that when women work outside the home it is only until the child is in yneed or the husband is able to support herDouble day even women who work outside of the house still come home at night and work at yhome At the original trial it was argued that Mrs Murdoch contributed only what a normal wife ywould do Mrs Murdoch worked year round on the farm and for five months every year she worked the yfarm singlehandedly Q Over the years what were your wifes activities around the ranchy A Oh just about what the ordinary ranchers wife does Most of them can do most anythingy In his dissent Laskin argued that Mrs Murdochs contribution was extraordinary she did not only yconduct mere housekeeping chores Q Even if her contribution was only ordinary should that entitle her to an equal share of the ybusinessQuoting Foster and Freed Laskin notes it is relatively meaningless for a wife to acquire legalcapacity to own property if she does not have any or tobecome entitled to keep her own wages if she is forcedto stay at home and raise children or employmentopportunities are limited234 The majority on the SC argued that in order to be entitled to half the family business there needs yto have been a common intention that the business was a joint ventureNo declaration of partnership was filed under the Partnership Acty In Murdoch the courts ruled that there was no such common intentionyIn his dissent Laskin argued that whether there existed a common intention to work as business ypartners is the wrong test
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