Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Carol Rogerson

By Satpal McCaughey

Prof. Carol Rogerson, LLB 1982, a renowned legal scholar, highly regarded teacher, and a former associate dean of the law school, has played a pivotal role in shaping family law and spousal support in Canada, and is the winner of the 2015 Carolyn Tuohy Impact on Public Policy Award from the University of Toronto.

This award is part of the annual Award of Excellence program which recognizes the outstanding members of the University of Toronto community who have made rich and meaningful contributions to the university, their communities and to the world.

One of Prof. Rogerson’s major achievements was helping to create the federal Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAG), which have had a profound impact on public policy. The guidelines have been cited in more than 2,000 legal decisions since the draft was released in 2005.

A leading authority in family law, she has presented her work at many conferences and forums, including in Italy, England, Australia, France and Spain.  She has also published widely in the areas of child support, and spousal support, and her work has been extensively cited and relied upon by academics, public policy analysts, lawyers and courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada.

Receiving the award “is just amazing,” said Rogerson. “The SSAG are a remarkable and unusual project in so many ways and I am thrilled that they have received public recognition through this award.”

Rogerson directed the SSAG project with Professor Rollie Thompson from Dalhousie's Schulich School of Law. She describes it as a “collective effort” of a group of academics, government officials, lawyers and judges aimed at creating a tool that would bring more certainty and predictability to a highly discretionary and contentious area of law, thus allowing cases to be resolved much more easily and with greater consistency. The goal of the project was to develop a set of spousal support formulas that would reflect typical patterns in current practice.

While the guidelines are only advisory, and do not involve formal legislative reform, they have been adopted across the country, explained Rogerson, and show that change can take place using the existing tools inside the legal process.

Rogerson is working on a new user’s guide for the SSAG, now 10 years old, which will be available this spring and which will reflect new developments and issues in the application of the SSAG. .  

“With the widespread acceptance of the SSAG, the world of spousal support changed dramatically in Canada,” said Elissa Lieff, senior general counsel with the Family, Children and Youth Section of the federal Department of Justice, in a letter supporting Rogerson’s nomination.

John Eekelaar, an Emeritus Fellow at Oxford University, called Prof. Rogerson’s work “truly innovative” and after hearing her speak at a seminar in London in December, 2012, the Law Commission of England proposed developing a similar approach.

Adopting the same methodology as the SSAG, the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers developed a set of informal spousal support guidelines reflecting current practice which have since been the basis for legislative reform in Massachusetts, New York and Colorado.

"On behalf of the Faculty of Law, I congratulate Prof. Rogerson on this well-deserved honour," said Dean Ed Iacobucci. "Her contributions to policy on spousal support has significantly transformed how such support is determined in Canada, with a positive impact on thousands of Canadians each year. We are proud to have her as a colleague."

In addition to her scholarly achievements, Rogerson is also a much-loved teacher and leader in the classroom, with consistently strong teaching scores. She received the 1985 APUS-SAC Teaching Award, and in 2012 was awarded the Faculty of Law’s Alan Mewett Award of Excellence in Teaching by the graduate class.

Professor Rogerson and the other 2015 Awards of Excellence recipients will be honoured at a ceremony at the Isabel Bader Theatre on April 13.


The Carolyn Tuohy Impact on Public Policy Award is presented along with several other faculty, staff and student awards under the banner of Awards of Excellence. A list of this year’s recipients and their citations can be viewed on the Awards of Excellence website.

Alumni Relations within the Division of University Advancement is the steward of the Awards of Excellence program on behalf of the University of Toronto Alumni Association, and co-ordinates the vital contributions of other university stakeholder groups toward this prestigious award program.