Husband Says “Enough is Enough” on Spousal Support – Court AgreesSharpe v. Sharpe, 2018 ONSC 3673 (CanLII)
This was a 15-year marriage that started in 1987, and ended with the couple’s separation in 2002. From that point onward, pursuant to a court order the husband had been paying spousal support to the wife – for another full 15 years, in fact. In other words, his support obligations to his wife (they never bothered to divorce) had endured as long as the marriage itself.
The husband applied to the court for an order to “eliminate all financial obligations from his marriage.” Specifically, he asked to have all his current and future spousal support obligations to her – as embodied in various orders that had been made along the way – reduced to nil, and to have any outstanding arrears vacated.
As the court explained the request:
Regarding termination of spousal support, the [husband] states he has paid support for over 15 years exceeding the length of his relationship/cohabitation with the [wife], and his position is “enough is enough”. He has paid support longer than suggested duration (7.5 to 15 years) in the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines.
The wife actually did not oppose having her spousal support terminated. As the court put it:
[W]hile she can make other arguments, she acknowledges for purposes of this motion that it would not be unreasonable for it to end on this date on the basis that support as of this date would have been paid for a duration representing the full length of the parties’ relationship. The applicant agreed …. that terminating support effective December 1, 2017 arguably satisfies the purposes and considerations set by the applicable spousal support laws having regard for those purposes and considerations and the Guidelines.
Still, that was not the end of the matter, because the court still had to consider the facts and make a ruling. The burden was on the husband to convince the court that the time had come for his obligation to the wife to end, since he was the one seeking to have the support order terminated.
The court noted that while there had been no change in the husband’s income, he had had some periods of long- and short-term disability in the years since one of the last orders was made in 2011. He also retired in 2014 and began receiving a pension. The court summarized his overall financial situation:
The respondent asserts that his cost of living has increased. His only source of income is his pension income.
The respondent claims monthly expenses of $3,717.66.
He owns a truck worth $2,000.
He has one bank account with a balance of $5.00
He lists no debts or other property.
The parties’ daughter has had to support him by way of providing him with food and meals.
His cost of living has increased he states.
He has managed to pay consistently for some time to date the sum of $550 to $500 (or it is collected by FRO).
It noted that the wife also lived alone, but in geared-to-income housing. She had a cognitive disability, and her income consisted of social assistance, support from the husband, and very modest employment income of a few thousand dollars a year as a newspaper carrier. The fact that she had a disability and health issues did favour allowing a slightly longer support period, but she was certainly not enjoying a high standard of living.
Nonetheless, spousal support could not continue indefinitely. After looking at all the circumstances, the court agreed to terminate going-forward spousal support from the husband, reasoning that to do so “adequately addresses the purposes and considerations for spousal support on these facts.”
However, the court declined to absolve the husband of his duty to pay the arrears, at a rate of $350 per month, especially now that he was no longer required to pay the $500 in monthly support he had been paying all along.
For the full text of the decision, see: Sharpe v. Sharpe