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Posts tagged ‘division of property’

Can a Wife’s Contribution to the Welfare of the Family be Worth $1 billion dollars?

Can a Wife’s Contribution to the Welfare of the Family be Worth $1 billion dollars?

This could be one of Britain’s biggest divorce cases exceeding $1 billion Canadian dollars.

The Guardian reports that Tatiana Akhmedova is seeking a claim against her former husband, a Russian billionaire.

The paper reported that she has not received “a penny” and the case is under appeal. The Guardian also reported on the trial decision.

Akhmedov argues “she was due almost half of their £1bn fortune due to her “equal contributions to the welfare of the family” during their marriage”.

The case has similar overtones to the British case Antonio v. Rokos, [2016] EWHC 520 (Fam); Case No. ZCI5P04051, February 15, 2016, High Court of Justice Family Division that considered a mother’s child care budget that included £10,555 a year for wine.

So, what do you think? Does Akhmedov’s argument that her contributions to welfare of the family is worth up to $500 million dollars?

Leaving lost wages? Court may order an unequal division property.

leaving

Leaving lost wages? Court may order an unequal division property.

This week, we take a look at gambling: specifically, situations where a spouse fritters away money during the marriage on games-of-chance, and how that imprudent conduct affects the equalization of property after the couple breaks up.

How does a court ‘deal’ with unlucky gamblers?

In the first case, R.(A.) v. R. (H.), 2000 CarswellOnt 4844 the husband asked for an unequal division family property, claiming that the wife had recklessly depleted the family assets: over the course of a 4-year period, she had squandered over $14,000 on bingo. In fact, she had hawked the family jewellery to fund her habit, and had forged the husband’ signature to his father’s account, all to fund her bingo habit. This was at a time when the husband’s modest income annual amounted to between $25,000 and $40,000 per year.

While sympathetic to the woman’s circumstances and apparent self-esteem issues (for which she blamed the husband), the court stopped short of declaring that the wife had an actual addiction. Instead, in light of the wife’s gambling and other financial factors, and in particular the wife’s unconscionable conduct in misappropriating funds, the court considered her behaviour to amount to “reckless depletion” of family assets and ordered that there be an unequal division of family property upon their divorce.

A second, more recent case called Laing v. Mahmoud, 2011 ONSC 4047 (CanLII). There, it was the husband who had a gambling problem: bank records showed that he had spent a significant amount of the family’s money at the Casino, sometimes making 3 or 4 withdrawals from the nearby ATM in a single day. In one month alone, he withdrew $9,000 that could not be accounted for (despite his claims that this money was spent to buy business supplies, or to pay his workers, or that he spent it on expenses for the family – who at the time happened to be living in a friend’s home rent-free). The business records did not corroborate his claims; nor for that matter did the evidence of the wife, as the court explained:

The argument that [the husband] was making withdrawals from the ATM at the Casino in Hull for gambling purposes is further supported by the evidence of [the wife] who gave clear detailed testimony. She stated that she went to the Casino for the first and last time with [the husband] on his birthday in 2002. [The husband] appeared to be very comfortable at the Casino. People greeted him by name and appeared to know him. Employees offered him food and appeared to know his habits. [The husband] told [the wife] which would be “good machines” due for a big payout. On that occasion, [the wife] won $700 and when the parties went to cash out her winnings, [the husband] had a special card for that purpose. It was obvious to [the wife] that [the husband] regularly attended the Casino. …

Under the circumstances, the court found that even if only a portion of the ATM withdrawals were used for gambling, it represented an unacceptable proportion of his net income that was lost to the family, and “crossed the threshold into the realm of reckless depletion.” The court found that an equal division of net family property would be therefore be unconscionable, and ordered an unequal division instead.

For the full text of the decision, see:

Laing v. Mahmoud, 2011 ONSC 4047 (CanLII) http://canlii.ca/t/fm470

R.(A.) v. R. (H.), 2000 CarswellOnt 4844 (S.C.J.)

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit us at www.RussellAlexander.com.

We’re Officially Separated – Can I Change the Locks on the House?

lock

We’re Officially Separated – Can I Change the Locks on the House?

When a couple first separates under contentious circumstances, I will often get questions about what each party’s respective rights are in the early stages, i.e. before the long process has started of formally dividing up their assets and dealing with any support and child-related issues. One of the most common questions is whether the spouse who remains in the matrimonial home after separation can change the locks in order to exclude the other spouse.

In Ontario, the short answer is: No.

If the now-separated married couple were living in the matrimonial home, and one of them has moved out, neither the Family Law Act nor other legislation entitles the remaining spouse to change the locks. This is because under that legislation the matrimonial home is afforded special status: both spouses are expressly granted an equal right to possession of it. This right of equal possession subsists even after separation unless or until:

1) there has been a separation agreement reached between the parties; or

2) a court order has been granted to establish that one of the spouses is entitled to what is known as “exclusive possession” of the matrimonial home pending a family trial. (And note that once exclusive possession has been granted to one of the spouses, he or she obtains the sole right to live in the home, regardless of who owns legal title.)

Unless one of these mechanisms is in place to override what is otherwise each spouse’s equal right to stay in the home, neither can formally lock out the other. In fact, both spouses will have a right to actually live in the home until a resolution on possession of the home is reached. For obvious reasons, however, this is usually untenable because most separations occur under very high-conflict, emotional-charged circumstances.

But even if one spouse has moved out, he or she is not entitled to come-and-go at will. Rather, there must be adequate and reasonable notice given of any intention to return, for example to retrieve any personal property that has been left behind. Similarly, if a court order for exclusive possession has been obtained in favour of one spouse, it will usually be a term of that order that the other spouse can periodically re-enter for specific purposes, with notice in advance. In this context the court may also order the locks to be changed, if the circumstances between the parties warrant it.

Finally, it is important to note that the order for “exclusive possession” is merely that; it does not give the remaining spouse the right to sell or dispose of any of the furniture or other belongings until all of the separation and divorce issues, including equalization of net family property, have been fully resolved by a court.

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit us at http://www.russellalexander.com/practice/family-property-division-and-sharing/

Court awards estranged wife deceased man’s pension

Court awards estranged wife deceased man’s pension

The court’s decision in Carrigan v. Carrigan Estate provides and important reminder that departing spouses must remember to change their beneficiaries or risk having them frozen in time.

Although Mr. Carrigan had separated from his wife of 23 years, Melodee Carrigan, in 1996, the couple never signed a separation agreement. Accordingly, Mrs. Carrigan and their two daughters continued to be designated as Mr. Carrigan’s pension beneficiaries.

In 2000, Mr. Carrigan moved into a condo with his new partner, Jennifer Quinn, and resided with her until his death and the couple became common-law partners after their third year of cohabitation.

When Mr. Carrigan died both Mrs. Carrigan and Ms. Quinn qualified as wive under pension legislation for the purpose of determining survivor benefits.

The Court of Appeal reviewed the relevant legislation and Justice Juriansz concluded that there was:

“…no particular policy rationale for interpreting the Pension Benefits Act to provide unequivocally that in all circumstances where there is a legally married spouse and a common law spouse, the common law spouse is entitled to the member’s death benefit …”

It would appear that the Ontario Court of Appeal has added a further nuance to the old saying ’til death do us part’.  It will be interesting to see of Jennifer Quinn decides to Appeal this matter to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Court of Appeal’s decision can be found at:

Carrigan v. Carrigan Estate 2012 ONCA 736 (CanLII)

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit us at www.RussellAlexander.com.

The Courts’ Role in Catching Spouses Who Play “Hide and Seek” with Family Assets

The Courts’ Role in Catching Spouses Who Play “Hide and Seek” with Family Assets

 

The opening paragraphs of the 2011 decision in Lo v. Mang provides a glimpse of the contentious nature of family law disputes that routinely come before the Ontario Court of Justice, and the human “back story” against which the court must make determinations as to division of family property for separating and divorcing couples.

The court in that case wrote:

1 Happily, eleven year old Chelsea Elisabeth Mang (“Chelsea”) and nine year old Evelyn Chloe Mang (“Evelyn”) are so loved that each of their parents wants to spend as much time as they can with them and play key roles in their ongoing development. Sadly, their parents’ disagreement about what is best for Chelsea and Evelyn has lead to a titanic legal battle.

I Divorce and Equalization of Net Family Property

2 During this proceeding the parties’ lawyers agreed on two things: first, Ms Lo and Mr. Mang should be divorced and second, that an equalization payment of $417,294.60 is due by Ms Lo to Mr. Mang.

This level of acrimony is not uncommon in family law cases. Nonetheless, it forms the backdrop against which the court must evaluate the financial information provided by separated spouses as part of their disclosure obligations. This job includes untangling the frequently-intricate financial arrangements by each party, some of whom take active steps to attempt to conceal transactions and assets to the detriment of their former partners.

In the Lo v. Mang case, for example, the husband had systematically under-reported his income and assets to the court. Among his assertions was the claim that certain shares that he held in a company were worth a total of only $300. In fact, after closely scrutinizing the evidence and delving into certain business and other financial records, the court concluded that these were participating shares that had an actual value of $665,200. After drawing this conclusion, the court said:

“To understate it, Mr. Mang’s financial disclosure was again flawed. Ms Iadeluca’s characterization of the exercise as a game of hide and seek is more accurate.”

Similarly, in a 2009 decision called Beneteau v. Young, the court had to closely examine the financial facts surrounding the business income of a husband who had taken deliberate steps in order to hide assets from his common-law wife. The court heard evidence that he had diverted significant undisclosed funds from his tire business to his own use, rather than that of his wife and child. For example, the wife found an unexplained $9,400 in cash in the husband’s jacket, for which he offered an implausible story involving the sale of a van. She also suspected him of taking undeclared cash payments in the course of his business, and knew for a fact that for years he had been earning money that he had not declared to the Canada Revenue Agency. And (perhaps most troublingly to the wife) a mere three days after they returned from holiday to Italy together, the husband purchased a $9,000 diamond engagement ring – apparently for another woman – which the wife found in a dresser drawer in their home.

Against this background, the court easily concluded that the husband had been diverting funds and hiding assets, which it needed to take into account for equalization purposes. The court wrote:

5. Undisclosed / Undeclared Cash

62 As identified, the parties’ relationship had very clear roles and expectations. Mr. Young devoted his entire time, energy and effort to creating, maintaining and promoting Wellington Tire Corporation. Except for some brief time Mr. Young spent with the children before their bedtime, the entire responsibility for the home, the children and all of their schooling, health, activities and maintenance devolved to Ms. Beneteau. …

63 In turn, it was understood and expected by Ms. Beneteau that Mr. Young would be open and honest with regard to income disclosure and to bring home his entire salary for her to manage. …

64 That arrangement worked for all of their 13 years and, when it was to their benefit, they used the various sources of cash that flowed into the home through Mr. Young as circumstances required. It was only in the later years of their relationship that Ms. Beneteau became suspicious that Mr. Young was diverting some of that cash to his own use, exclusive of her and the children. The first indication of this new deviousness was in July 2005 when Ms. Beneteau found the woman’s diamond engagement ring.

65 Her suspicions were of course confirmed when, in May 2007, she found the $9,400 in cash. By then, any level of trust between them had long disappeared. By then Ms. Beneteau was clearly searching for more evidence of Mr. Young’s duplicity and his financial deprivation of her and their children.

66 Ms. Beneteau’s May 2007 discovery of the cash cache and her removal of same caused great ructions between them. It was not until after this litigation was well commenced that Mr. Young acknowledged this cache and created an explanation for it. He “explained” that $4,000 of the $9,400 was from the sale of the van that he had confiscated from her in December 2006. The balance of $5,400 was, he now says, the proceeds of a longstanding, ongoing cash arrangement that he had entered into with an unnamed individual who had for years apparently attended at Wellington Tire and had been purchasing for cash the used tires that were turned in when new tires were purchased. When confronted, Mr. Young disclosed that he had been receiving various amounts of cash for these “left over” tires for years. He admitted that this arrangement had continued from the mid-1990s until late 2005 or early 2006. He feigned that he really could not remember just when that scheme had ended but in his vague and avoidant answers to cross-examination on this issue, Mr. Young assured the court that this practice had ended well before the separation. He said that without any explanation “the guy” had just stopped attending at his place of business to pick up the tires.

67 I have a great deal of difficulty with Mr. Young’s self-serving evidence on this point since, of course, given the nature of his subterfuge with both the government and his accountant (and after separation, his former partner Ms. Beneteau), his assertions are unprovable or incapable of disproof. Obviously, it behooves him to keep that longstanding scheme under the table.

68 … As an explanation for the $9,400 cash found hidden in his jacket in May of 2007 (allegedly partial proceeds from a sale in January or early February of 2007 for a corporate owned van that he took possession of in December 2006), these deposits appear to represent his attempt to reconstruct historical facts. There is no bill of sale or any independent corroboration of any part of his story and I reject it.

69 Mr. Young’s further assertion that this $9,400 had been in the till at work lacks credibility since for years he had been bringing home money from work and had, for at least two years before the finding of this hoard, been secreting other of his assets around the home (eg. the diamond ring).

70 When cross-examined with regard to the coincidental ending of the purchase of the leftover tires by the unnamed buyer with his separation from Ms. Beneteau, Mr. Young was elusive, avoidant and evasive. He would not concede that one event had anything to do with the other. If he were to be believed, it was merely a fortuitous coincidence that they occurred at the same time. I am unpersuaded.

71 Part of Ms. Beneteau’s claim includes a request for a finding that Mr. Young continues to take undisclosed and undeclared amounts of cash from his business, not only from the till for work done for cash but that, on a balance of probabilities, the alleged end of the used-tire-for-cash-sales scheme is a misdirection or an outright lie. After all, she argues, how could she ever prove or disprove that this “under the table” long-standing modus operandi no longer continues.

72 On balance, I am persuaded that Mr. Young continues to deal in cash on a regular basis, given the evasiveness of his evidence; the fact that he has been carrying on business in this manner for well over a decade; and the fact that the books, ledgers and bank records of his corporation do not disclose any expense whatsoever that his company must apparently now incur to dispose of used tires in some manner, since the purported end of the scheme. …

In light of these conclusions the court then turned to the task of imputing income to the husband. It said:

73 The issue then becomes how to conclude how much Mr. Young is actually taking from the business in un-disclosed and undeclared cash when the entire rationale for and the scheme is set up to ensure that accountants and/or the government cannot prove that he continues to perpetuate the arrangement and to enjoy the benefits of his non-disclosure.

74 Certainly, he had almost $10,000 in cash to buy the ring in the summer of 2005. Almost two years later, he had almost another $10,000 in cash hidden in a secret place in his home. Presently, he has a safety deposit box, the exact details of the contents of which he was unwilling to disclose.

75 Since the onus of proof in this trial is a civil, not a criminal one, I am persuaded that it is more probable than not that Mr. Young continues to accept and to take cash from his business whenever he is offered that opportunity.

76 Accordingly, I conclude that Mr. Young takes at least $10,000 a year from his business, as was proven that he did in both 2005 and again in 2007. I do not accept his assertion that the $9,400 cash that Ms. Beneteau found in his secret place was partially the result of the sale of the van. I find that explanation is a concoction of his that he created after the discovery of his hidden cache of money.

The decisions in Lo v. Mang and Beneteau v. Young are just two recent examples of cases where one spouse has attempted to hide economic information from the other or play a “shell game” with financial transactions to obscure the location or value of assets. It may be easy to see why separated spouses facing court-imposed equalization adjustments would feel tempted to do this. However, full financial disclosure is imperative in the family law system and – as these decisions show – the courts will impute income in the appropriate circumstances.

The lawyers and staff at Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers are experienced in dealing with financial disclosure obligations for separating and divorcing couples, and can advise as to this and other family law matters as well. For further information, visit us at www.RussellAlexander.com

For the full text of these decisions, see:

Lo v. Mang, 2011 ONSC 496 http://bit.ly/plp7pz

Beneteau v. Young, 2009 CanLII 40312 (ON SC) http://bit.ly/qVjXoY

Ontario’s Bill 133 & Regulation for Pension Division to Commence January 2012

Ontario’s Bill 133 & Regulation for Pension Division to Commence January 2012

Ontario’s Attorney General Chris Bentley reports that starting January 1, 2012, the pension division and valuation provisions in the Family Statute Law Amendment Act, 2009 will come into force. The changes are designed to make the family justice system more affordable, faster, simpler and less confrontational.

The new regulation under the Pension Benefits Act that sets out the valuation methodology and the process for receiving a payout from the plan will be made available at a later date.

The regulation includes the following changes:

• defined contribution plans will use a different imputed value methodology than defined benefit plans (s. 19);

• the regulation permits spouses to request a valuation based on two proposed dates (s. 22);

• the regulation provides a valuation methodology for active pension plan members who continue to work past their unreduced early retirement or their normal retirement date (s. 7);

• the shortened life expectancy provision has been expanded to applications made after the valuation date (s. 13);

• the regulation clarifies the scope of the ‘non-vested discount’ rule (s. 11).

• the imputed value of a defined contribution benefit will require updating based on the account’s rate of return (s. 30);

• the revaluation rules for a pension in pay have been clarified to take into account bridging benefits and any guarantee period to which the pension is subject (ss. 39 and 40);

• the regulation sets out rules for plans that provide separate defined benefits and defined contribution benefits (ss. 3, 16, 30, 31);

• the maximum fee for a valuation for defined benefits has been changed to $600 (s. 23);

• the regulation will require administrators to disclose any ad hoc adjustments such as indexation made to the plan within the three years leading up to the valuation date (s. 24);

• various amendments were made to clarify the requirements for the contents of the statement of imputed value, including the accumulated value of additional voluntary contributions as of the FLVD and as of the starting date (s. 24).

 In addition, the Ontario Government also made amendments to Regulation 909 under the Pension Benefits Act in order to facilitate the operation of the new regime.

The six month transition period will hopefully provide some time for the Financial Services Commission of Ontario to create the requisite Superintendent’s forms; for administrators to prepare their systems for compliance with the new regime; and for lawyers and other professional advisors to familiarize themselves with the new legislative and regulatory framework.

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers we are available for personalized, private and confidential consultation. For more information about our services, division of pensions or other family law issues please visit us at www.russellalexander.com

Wife Misses Deadline for Claiming Equalization

Wife Misses Deadline for Claiming Equalization

It may be a little-known fact that in Ontario, there is a deadline for spouses to claim for an equalization payment after separation. A recent case illustrates what can happen when one of the parties fails to act promptly.

The spouses in Martynko v. Martynko were married in 1997, but separated in 2002. In keeping with their separation negotiations at that time, the husband paid the wife $50,000 so that she could buy herself a house to live in, and in 2003 they both signed a handwritten confirmation of what they called an “out of court settlement.” At this time the wife also set up a separate bank account, and began sleeping in separate bedrooms until her new home was finished being built.

In 2006, the husband started divorce proceedings, which the wife did not defend despite being properly notified. The divorce was granted that same year, and the husband remarried in 2008. Shortly after, in August of that same year, the wife brought a court action under the Family Law Act for division of property and spousal support.

The husband pointed out that Ontario law provides for a statutory limitation period for applications of this nature: the wife was required to bring her claim within six years from “the day the spouses separate and there is no reasonable prospect that they will resume cohabitation”.

The court was asked to determine whether the wife was out of time. Using well-established legal tests as to when a couple is considered to be “separated” for legal purposes, it found that the marriage effectively “died” when the husband made the $50,000 payment to the wife in 2002; after this date, there was no reasonable prospect of reconciliation between the spouses. Therefore, for family law purposes, the separation date was in 2002. And since more than six years had passed at the time the wife brought her equalization application, she was too late.

The court did consider the fact that the Family Law Act allows for extension of the 6-year limitation period in some narrow circumstances; however, the wife in this case had failed to respond to the divorce application, had not brought a motion to extend the limitation period, had shown no good reason for not contacting a lawyer to determine her rights, and had shown no other good faith reason as to why an extension should be granted in her case.

Indeed, to allow the wife to proceed with the equalization application at this point would result in significant prejudice to the now-remarried husband, who had relocated to a new city and had purchased a heavily-mortgaged home with his new wife.

Additional information on family law issues can be found on our web site  www.russellalexander.com

For the full text of the decision, see: Martynko v. Martynko, 2010 ONSC 5341 (S.C.J.) http://bit.ly/gU9pHS

Stealing Grandmother’s Quilt: A Lesson in How Not to Behave Upon Separation

Stealing Grandmother’s Quilt: A Lesson in How Not to Behave Upon Separation

It’s probably not all that uncommon a scenario, but a recent decision from the Ontario court provides a handy illustration of how not to conduct yourself when you’ve decided to separate from your spouse.

In this case, the husband and wife separated in 2006 after more than 20 years of marriage. At that time – and despite having formerly held jobs in the computer field – both were unemployed at the time. They accordingly decided to continue living under the same roof for about a year until the husband moved out in August of 2007. At that point, their three children were aged 19, 18 and 12.

The husband chose to move out during the August 2007 long weekend, when the wife and children were away. Without giving the wife any advanced warning – and with the assistance of several friends he brought along for the purpose – he removed a significant amount of furniture and other items from the home they shared. These included a dining room set, the master bedroom set, two leather sofas, two coffee tables, a mirror over the fireplace, lamps, a mirror in a washroom, at least two television sets (including the large 40-inch one from the family room), the patio furniture, the snowblower, and various small kitchen appliances. He also removed the family videos and photographs, as well as certain keepsakes belonging to the wife, including a quilt that had been made by her mother who was now deceased. His explanation for removing this last item was that he “liked the quilt very much” and thought it would be “safer with him.”

The husband also broke into a locked closet in the master bedroom that the wife alone had been occupying since separation, and removed all of her financial documents, including bank account records, records relating to properties in Greece that belonged to her extended family.

The wife and children returned from their long weekend away to find their home half-empty. It was only after the court issued an initial emergency order that the father eventually returned some, but not all, of the family mementos. Among other things, he persisted in keeping certain school certificates, birth certificates, and some personal possessions belonging to the deceased grandmother.

The wife applied to the court to have these items returned, as part of a broader application for various relief which included an equalization payment, the division of the net proceeds of the sale of the home, determining who was responsible for paying certain alleged debts, and child support.

The court was decisive: it ordered the husband to immediately return all family videotapes, birth certificates, school records, photographs of the deceased grandmother. And of course the quilt, too.

And because the husband had the opportunity to remove the furniture items he wanted from the matrimonial home, and because the wife did not ask for them back, the court assumed he had whatever personal possessions and household items that were of importance to him, and made no further order in that regard. However, the court noted that the youngest daughter was particularly devastated by the father’s conduct in taking the family mementos, since she felt that her past had been stolen from her. It also observed that the husband had “paid dearly” for his behaviour: it had been the “last straw” for the children, who have steadfastly refused to have any contact with the father since that time.

Turning next to the determination of how child support would be allocated amongst the parents, the court was equally critical of the husband’s lacklustre attempts at finding employment. The court wrote:

“Mr. Clark provided minimal evidence of the efforts he is taking to obtain employment. He has registered with an employment office in Gatineau and has received five leads. When he has pursued these inquiries – all relating to positions in Quebec – he has been asked if he speaks French. He does not speak French well enough to work in the language, but says he is willing to learn the language. Considering his age and his child support obligations, I do not consider it reasonable for Mr. Clark to focus his employment search only in Gatineau in environments where French, quite understandably, would have to be spoken and it could take Mr. Clark years to become functionally bilingual. Mr. Clark provided no evidence as to why he is not exploring the Ottawa and Eastern Ontario job market. Mr. Clark appears content to collect employment insurance for the time being.”

The court pointed out that the husband was under a legal obligation to obtain suitable alternative employment so that he could contribute to the support of his children, and to keep the wife informed of his efforts in that regard. It was not the wife’s responsibility to constantly ask him if there have been any changes. After considering his education and prospects for employment, the court gave the husband a deadline: if by a specified date the husband’s income from all sources was less than $50,000, the court would nonetheless assume that he was earning that same amount, and would calculate child support accordingly. In other words, the husband would be liable to pay child support based on the assumption he was earning $50,000, even if he was earning less.

In a later proceeding, as part of a determination of liability for the costs for bringing the matter to court, the court found that the husband’s removal of the wife’s personal possessions should never have occurred, and that he should have returned them without her having to obtain a court order. It said:

“This case got off to a very bad start due in great measure to Mr. Clark’s unreasonable behaviour in (1) moving furniture out of the family home while Ms. Clark and the children were away for a weekend, (2) breaking into Ms. Clark’s locked closet and taking Ms. Clark’s financial records, and (3) taking some of Ms. Clark’s personal possessions which were of obvious sentimental value to her. Such behaviour must be discouraged.

Ms. Clark was forced to bring an emergency motion in order to get the return of her documents and possessions. Despite numerous interim orders, I was satisfied at trial that not all items had been returned to Ms. Clark as ordered.”

After taking all factors into account, including whether the parties were successful in other aspects of their respective applications, the court ordered the husband to pay $5,000 in costs to the wife.

For the full text of the decisions, see: Clark v. Clark, 2010 ONSC 3761 (S.C.J.) and Clark v. Clark, 2010 ONSC 4667 (S.C.J.) http://bit.ly/fz2BXT

Additional information on family law issues can be found on our web site  www.russellalexander.com

Common Law Spouse Awarded $200,000 as Compensation

Common Law Spouse Awarded $200,000 as Compensation

Jill Teskey and John Jones lived together for 10 years but were never married. Jill was a flight attendant earning $45,000 and John was a VP of a juice company earning $125,000.

Jill moved into John’s home after they met and had a child 2 years later. Jill stayed home to care for the child. John retired in 6 years later.

Jill continued to work as a full time teacher and did most of the parenting. Jill also paid for many of the expenses and improvements to John’s home and continued to live in John’s home rent free.

The court found that John had been enriched by Jill’s contributions to his home and even though they were not married Jill was entitled to a monetary award when they separated.

Accordingly, the court awarded Jill $200,000 for the services, work and financial contribution that Jill made to the relationship. Some of Jill’s contributions included:

• Gardening

• Helping replace decks

• Preserving logs inside and outside the home

• Scrapping moss

• Mowing the lawn

• Stripping wall paper and painting

• Purchasing items for the child’s bedroom; and

• Shoveling the driveway

Justice Kruzick’s decision inTeskey v. Jones can be found at http://bit.ly/gk91a4

Further information on family law and related issues is also available on our main website www.russellalexander.com

5 Steps to Dividing Family Property

In Canada, the Divorce Act does not deal with sharing your property or debts. Each province and territory has its own law that sets out the rules for dividing the property and debts you and your spouse have. Consider these 5 steps when dividing your family property.

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