High Income Spousal Support Variations

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice Decision by The Honourable Kenneth G. Hood, in Choquette v. Choquette FINAL Mar 1 2018 highlights the complexity and difficulty in variation applications by high income earners.

Of note in this case is that the support recipient had little income at the time of variation and was not the caregiver of the couple’s adult children.  The recipient worked as a farmer, and earned little income from the farming business and her rental apartment in Toronto.  Most of her income was from spousal support.  The recipient was well-educated, motivated and capable.  She was unable to obtain self sufficiency after 22 years of support, despite Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines length of 7.5 to 15 years based on the duration of the relationship.

The payor’s application to end support immediately was successful for the following reasons:

  1. The recipient had been compensated for any disadvantage arising out of the marriage by the length of support already received;
  2. There were no child care expenses at this point in the relationship;
  3. The economic hardship arising from the breakdown of the marriage had long been dealt with by the payment of 22 years of support.  The recipient with her degree and qualifications had every opportunity to overcome any economic hardship there may have been;
  4. The initial order made in 1996 was to promote self sufficiency.  The only order that could be made at this point to promote self sufficiency would be one that terminates support entirely;
  5. Even though this order may create economic hardship for the recipient, she was not entitled to spousal support having regard to the provisions of the Divorce Act. 

This matter is still within the appeal window, and it is unclear whether the parties will appeal.

If you are considering whether to move to terminate or vary support it is important to consider all of the circumstances of the case.  The analysis will consider all of the current economic factors for both you and your spouse.  You cannot look at one case such as this and apply it to your situation.  We recommend you hire an experienced family law lawyer that can identify the relevant considerations and facts of your situation and give you advice.

If you have questions about spousal support, spousal maintenance, alimony, variation of support, or ending spousal support, contact Windsor family law lawyers Mary Fox, Tanya McNevin or Thomas MacKay today by calling 519-259-1820.   We serve clients in Windsor, Tecumseh, Lasalle, Essex, Leamington, Kingsville, Belle River, Lakeshore, and throughout southern Ontario.



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