In Ahmad v. Khalid, the Ontario Superior Court recently addressed spousal support payments by a high-income husband in a short-term marriage.

The History of the Former Spouses

The parties, Dr. Khalid and Ms. Ahmad, met on a Muslim dating site, dated for a brief period of time, and were married in a religious ceremony in February 2013 (followed by a civil ceremony in November of that same year). They have one child, Arman, born in January 2015.

Approximately one month after the birth of Arman, Dr. Khalid served Ms. Ahmad with divorce papers on Valentine’s Day 2015.  In March of that year, Ms. Arman moved back to Canada to reside with her parents in Brampton, Ontario. At the time of the separation, Ms. Ahmad was not employed, had no income, and was providing full time care for Arman.

The Spousal Support Claim

Dr. Khalid is a doctor residing in Wexford, Pennsylvania. His 2016 income was established at USD $255,000 (or approximately CAD $324,640). Ms. Ahmad had been enrolled in a health administration Master’s degree program and finished one semester of the program before the birth of the child. At the time of trial, she continued to reside in Brampton, Ontario.

Among other things, Ms. Ahmad made a claim for interim spousal support based on compensatory grounds citing the fact that she put her education and career on hold after she married and had a child. Based on Dr. Khalid’s declared 2016 income, Ms. Ahmad sought $8,626 per month, representing the midrange under the Spousal Support Guidelines (SSAG) (with the upper range being $9,299 and the lowest range being $7,464).

The Spousal Support Order

Justice Emery applied the SSAG and his discretion to award Ms. Ahmad interim spousal support at the lower range of the Guidelines in the amount of $7,500, subject to any additional evidence regarding SSAG factors, applicable exchange rates, and inter-jurisdictional tax considerations.

In making his decision, Justice Emery considered both a) the short duration of the marriage and b) the fact that Ms. Ahmad was living comfortably with her parents in a large home.

Importantly, the judge also commented on the financial statement that Dr. Khalid had submitted as evidence of his significant expenses (including a mortgage that required monthly payments of more than $3,500 on a home purchased after the separation) stating:

I consider the mortgage payments Dr. Khalid is making not as an expense, but as a prepayment on an investment he has made for the future. He voluntarily incurred this expense and it will accrue to his benefit in the future as a property that will either generate income or appreciate in value. It is not an expense that he can use as a shield to pay spousal support. This is particularly so since he incurred that expenditure after the date of separation.

The judge concluded by saying that he saw no reason why the parties could not proceed to a settlement conference to deal with any remaining unsettled spousal support issues with a view to handling the matter expeditiously in the best interests of their child.

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