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Incomes of Parties Not Sole Determinant in Spousal Support for Long-Term Marriage.

This was an application by the husband to vary an interim order for spousal support and cancel arrears. The parties were married in 1980 and separated in 2010. In August 2011, an interim spousal support order was made in favour of the wife in the amount of $4,000 per month. The order was based on representations that the husband’s annual income was $234,195. In February 2011, due to downsizing at the husband’s employer, he was demoted which resulted in a significant decrease in his salary to approximately $150,000. In June 2012, the husband’s support obligation was reduced to $3,000 per month. The husband sought an order terminating or decreasing the amount of support and cancelling arrears that were owing. The wife opposed the application.

Madam Justice Veit J.B. held that there was a material change in circumstances concerning the husband’s employment income. There was no evidence that the wife gave up anything or suffered as a result of the marriage, which would justify an award of compensatory spousal support. The evidence further suggested the wife did not regard herself as part of a team or partnership in the marriage, but as a lone player, which undermined her claim for spousal support on a non-compensatory basis. The wife’s economic dependence on the husband was the result of her failure to take advantage of opportunities provided by him to become economically self-sufficient. She was entitled to some support in consideration of the hardship caused by establishing a separate residence, but not to an equal division of the family’s income. Due to the long-time interdependency of the parties, the husband was ordered to pay monthly support in the amount of $600 per month for a period of three years or until further order of the court. The wife had not established an entitlement to retroactive support.

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