Spouse Wins Compensatory Support After Moving Across the Country for Marriage


When a couple separates or divorces, one of the parties may find themselves obligated to pay spousal support to the other party. It’s often the case that the spouse making more money is the one that has to pay spousal support. There are different reasons why spousal support may be awarded. In some cases, spousal support could arise based on the recipient’s economic loss or disadvantage as a result of the marriage. For example, one spouse may have quit their job to work out of the home after the parties had children. This is known as compensatory spousal support. Another type of spousal support is non-compensatory, and it occurs when one of the parties to a separation or divorce needs money from the other to live or to maintain a standard of living. A recent decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice looks at a situation where the parties were not married for long, but the wife sought compensatory spousal support.

Wife moves across country for marriage

The husband and wife were married on November 8, 2019. Prior to the wedding, the wife lived in Vancouver and worked a full-time job. The husband lived in Brampton prior to the marriage and the wife joined him there once they were married.

The wife quit her job for the move, and shortly after arriving in Brampton secured a job. However, the husband and his family convinced her to quit that job after two weeks and remain at home.

The parties separated just over one year after they were married. The wife alleges that the marriage was abusive, and the separation occurred after a physical altercation between the husband and wife. The husband left the apartment after that altercation.

Wife claims spousal support following separation

The wife told the court that she is in dire need of spousal support. She stated she had been financially dependent on her husband since they became married, and that her job in Vancouver had been the only one she had ever held. Shortly after the separation, she obtained part-time employment. However, that job only pays $300 bi-weekly. She claimed spousal support of $3,500 per month based on her needs and the husband’s work as a truck driver making close to $90,000 per year.

What type of spousal support is the wife entitled to?

The court found that the wife was certainly in need of spousal support based on her income of just about $800 per month. The court stated, “There is no dispute that she was entirely financially dependent on the respondent prior to the breakdown of the marriage. As she transitions into her post-separation life, the applicant needs spousal support on an interim basis.”

In looking at the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAG), based on the husband and wife’s incomes, she would only be entitled to just under $150 per month. The court found this to be insufficient and looked to see whether it could divert from the SSAGs.

The court stated that in certain situations, the court can use its discretion to award support in short marriages that ended without children (compensatory support is often found in longer marriages with children).

One of the situations where courts can divert from the SSAGs is when one spouse is transferred for employment purposes and the other spouse follows. This logic can also extend to when one spouse moves across the country to be with the spouse.

As a result of this, despite only being married for just over a year, the court found that the wife’s move from Vancouver to Brampton, which saw her leave a well-paying job, qualifies her for compensatory support. The court awarded her $2,200 per month until otherwise directed.

For questions that only a family law lawyer can answer, contact Johnson Miller Family Lawyers at 519.973.1500 or contact us online. We have been a fixture of the family law community of Windsor and Essex County for over 25 years, and so understandably, many prospective clients come to the firm through referrals from current or past clients, and also through referrals from lawyers, accountants, medical professionals and marriage counsellors.


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