It’s not uncommon for the courts to hear of people taking extreme measures to escape their spousal or child support obligations. In one case recently before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, a husband quit his well-paying job after squandering his family’s savings and moved to Poland. The court was left to decide whether he still had support obligations towards his wife.

The marriage

The husband and wife both immigrated to Canada from Poland. They were married on December 28, 1991. They had one child, who was an adult at the time of the hearing, and separated on April 30, 2012. The husband and wife largely kept their finances separate, with one event being a significant ex exception. The family moved from Mississauga to London, Ontario in 2000. The Mississauga home had been jointly owned. Instead of purchasing a new home in London, the husband told the wife he would hold onto the $64,349 they received from the sale of their home in order to put it towards a larger home. They were to live in an apartment in the meantime. Otherwise, they paid for things separately, with the wife covering her own personal expenses, splitting utilities and groceries with her husband, who paid the mortgage, taxes, and insurance on the house The wife worked as a house cleaner before going to college and finding work in a doctor’s office. When the doctor retired in 2013 the wife was unable to find new employment and went back to house cleaning.  The husband was an electrician when the couple married. He worked at the same location up until May 29, 2015, at which time he quit his job.

Wasting money

During the years leading up to their separation, the husband depleted what the court described as “staggering amounts of money,” having no excuse or evidence as to where most of it went. In addition to losing the $64,349 from the sale of the matrimonial home, the husband also withdrew over $100,000 from his RRSP. While he claimed to have lost much of that money in the stock market, he wasn’t able to show the court any documentation to support that explanation. The husband was also the recipient of a property in Poland. In 2012, after the separation, the husband’s father transferred property to him that in 2015 was valued at approximately $140,534.00 CDN. The husband complied with a spousal support order up until May 2015. On the last cheque he wrote to his wife, he wrote “ztodziejstwo” on the front of the cheque, which roughly translated to English, means “thievery.” He quit his job in May, 2015, and moved to Poland with a $13,711.41 tax refund in hand.

Moving to Poland

Upon moving to Poland he started work at a sister plant of the one he worked at in Ontario. In Ontario, he had an income of over $100,000 per year along with benefits. In Poland, he was making roughly $16,000 per year. Regardless, the husband lost his job at the end of his probationary period. At the time of the trial he had not found another job, but indicated he had no intention of every returning to Canada. The court was critical of the husband’s actions, writing “ (The husband) deliberately, unilaterally, and voluntarily left his secure, long-term, lucrative employment at Presstran in St. Thomas. He did so without regard to his obligations to (the wife). He has left the jurisdiction. I find that (the husband) took the steps he did in an attempt to avoid his support obligations.” The court found that the property in Poland was obtained by the husband before the couple’s separation, and included it in the net family property. The court also determined that a lump sum payment of spousal support in the amount of $106,420 would be paid to the wife, along with a lump sum payment of $20,000 for retroactive support. Finally, the court ordered an equalization payment of $141,417.44 to be made to the wife reflective of the Polish property as well as the RRSPs and other money spent by the husband. Disputes over spousal support can be one of the most contentious aspects of a separation or divorce. At NULaw we take a pragmatic approach to family law issues, including spousal support. We avoid driving up the costs of legal advice, avoiding unnecessary actions, or a paths that may prolong your dispute. Instead, we help our clients focus on the big picture, asking “what I am I really fighting about?” Please reach us online, or call us at 416-481-5604 to see how we can help you today.    

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