COVID-19 has impacted the way many people work, and that’s for people who were fortunate enough to keep their jobs during the economic downturn that resulted from the pandemic. If someone loses their job it may result in changes to the amount of spousal or child support they are required to pay. However, not every change in employment will result in changes. If someone is able to make the same amount of money they used to, but fail to do so, the courts could order them to keep paying the amount of support they would have with the higher income amount. In a recent decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, a mother is told that she must adapt to virtual work in order to maintain her income.

Work changes due to the pandemic

The parents involved separated in January 2015 after being married for 21 years. The father is an orthopedic surgeon and had been the primary income earner during the marriage, earning over $600,000 annually. The mother is a speech pathologist, but only worked part time, with an income of about $50,000. Child support payable by the father was set at $4,452, while spousal support was set at $11,162 per month.

Mother’s move and employment may impact support      

The mother and the father were both asking for adjustments to the amount of spousal support payable by the father. The father stated that the mother had moved to Florida, a state in which spousal support is not taxable, and as a result, he should be relieved of paying as high an amount of support has he was paying at the time of the trial.

However, the mother has stated that her health has deteriorated, and she is no longer able to work in-person, and as a result, the $50,000 in annual income that had been imputed towards her should be reduced or eliminated.

Is the mother unable to work?

The court accepted the mother’s evidence that there are concerns about her ability to work and perform tasks of daily living at full capacity,. However, the court did not see any evidence that suggests she is unable to work at a reduced capacity.

Upon her move to Florida in 2018, the mother accepted a job providing speech language pathology, earning $55-90 per hour. She eventually left that position and opened her own clinic while also looking for work while she presumable builds up a client base. However, she stated that health concerns as well as her inability to speak Spanish, which is a popular language in Florida, has made it difficult or impossible to find work. She also claimed she was not qualified to perform her services remotely using computers.

While the court did agree with the mother’s statements about her health, it did not believe that she is unable to work remotely. The court said,

While the court did agree with the mother’s statements about her health, it did not believe that she is unable to work remotely. The court said, “The applicant is an intelligent woman and an experienced speech-language pathologist. There is no reason she cannot learn to deliver teletherapy. Moreover, she continues to have an obligation to do what she can to become self-supporting. She still has many years of working life ahead of her and, at least during this pandemic, she can learn to deliver speech-language therapy remotely.”

As a result, the court did not change the mother’s income, leaving it at $50,000 per year. However, the court also refused to adjust the amount of support payable to the mother, despite the lack of taxation in Florida.

Contact NULaw as soon as possible to speak with a family lawyer if you are contemplating a separation, or have already begun the process. We are dedicated to pursuing your interests and getting exceptional results. Let us focus on your rights and negotiate the best possible outcome for you while you focus on rebuilding and moving on. Contact us online or at 416-481-5604 to book a consultation.

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