When a couple separates and eventually finalizes their divorce, they are likely to be relieved that the process is over. However, the decisions doesn’t always stay in the past. One divorced couple returned to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice 15 years after a 2003 trial when the father sought to eliminate his spousal support obligations.

Background

The couple went through a seven day hearing in 2003. One of the outcomes of the trial was an order for the husband to pay $882 per month in child support, as well as $1,300 per month in spousal support for the first two years and $500 per month each year thereafter. The husband sought review of the spousal support in 2007, but the judge did not alter it because there was “no guarantee that the respondent can achieve full self-sufficiency within a limited period of time.”

Both children of the relationship graduated from university on July 21, 2014. Child support was no longer required to be paid at this time, though the husband was still obligated to pay $500 per month in spousal support.

The 2018 trial

The husband tried again in 2018, though this time the wife countered, asking to have it extended because during their relationship her career suffered when she worked in the home to raise their children. At trial her position was summarized as follows, “She said that because of her child care responsibilities, which only ended recently, she was unable to return the workforce. She says that she is at a disadvantage as a result, for which she should be compensated in spousal support.” In addition, the wife sought compensatory spousal support in respect for her role as the children’s primary care provider since 2003.

The husband’s position is that he should no longer be made to pay spousal support, arguing the wife should be sell-sufficient by now, and that the children are no longer dependent on their parents. He argued the wife had made no reasonable effort to become self-sufficient since the 2003 order.

The court’s analysis

The court sided with the husband, finding the wife  “was unable to explain why her child care responsibilities after 2003, presumably providing for a claim under s. 15.2(6)(b) of the Divorce Act, would prevent her from becoming self-sufficient and moving on with her career.  Her failure to do so appears to confirm (the trial judge’s) finding that (the wife) put roadblocks in the way of her self-sufficiency, insisting on caring for the children full time when they did not need this level of attention as they got older.”

The court did not find a relationship between the wife’s lack of employment in 2018 and her work inside the home since 2003, writing, “I accept that at the time of this trial, Ms. Conforti’s (the wife’s) income potential and the job opportunities available to her were limited in nature.  However, I decline to relate this to (her) role within the marriage or to disadvantages relating to the marriage or her child care roles within the marriage. These parties separated in 2000.  By 2003, when the spousal support award was made of $1,300 per month, the children were old enough to allow (the wife) to go out into the work force.”

Windsor family lawyer Jason P. Howie helps clients with all types of family law issues, including separation and divorce, and issues around the child and spousal support. Jason P. Howie has over 25 years of helping clients through the stress and strain of a relationship ending, and is proud to state that most clients come by way of referral from former and current clients, as well as by lawyers, accountants and other professionals. Please call us at 519.973.1500 or reach us online to see how we can help you today.