Husband Fires Wife – Court Orders Him to Pay Her $20,000 Per Month in Support
In Juma v. Juma, the divorcing couple owned seven businesses together in Kingston, Ontario and Florida, including an indoor golf facility, a snowplow business, a party-supply and tent rental company. The husband held a controlling 51 percent in all of the corporations, while the wife owned 49 percent.
However their main business involved classroom-based software and technology instruction, and virtually all of their income came from this one enterprise. The wife performed the role of paid bookkeeper for that company.
But once they separated the husband fired her, and also cut off her access to all the business and personal accounts. The wife claimed this left her with no income, other than $2,000 a month that the husband voluntarily paid her. She asked the court for temporary child and spousal support pending their divorce trial.
The court considered the facts: For the past few years, the husband had been taking income from the companies in the amount of about $800,000 per year. But in the past year – due to what he said were health problems arising from quadruple by-pass surgery – he claimed income of only about $200,000. Yet when the court examined his medical history and procedures, it concluded that alleged 80% drop in the husband’s income was not sufficiently explained.
Accordingly, for support-calculation purposes the court set his income at $600,000, and the mother’s income at $0. (The court did find that she had access to about $50,000 in funds, but those moneys had been withdrawn from the account, and would be part of an equalization process).
On this basis, the husband was ordered to pay temporary spousal support of $18,000 per month, and child support of $3,000 per month. The wife’s future earning capacity would have to be addressed during the later divorce trial, but her present circumstances called for the husband to pay a reasonable level of support in the short term. She was currently living in Florida only during the winter months, and had no employment visa allowing her to work there. To require her to work temporarily in the Florida-based family business was not feasible in light of the acrimony between the parties. The court wrote:
I understand that, to some extent, [the husband] brought the financial loss of the applicant’s services on himself by firing her, but under all the circumstances, it was probably unreasonable to expect her to continue to be employed. Collectively, the parties have put themselves in this position of her having currently lost her employment from the family business and not being able to just walk across the street and pick up another job paying her anywhere near that amount, at least until they get some things sorted out here.
For the full text of the decision, see:
Juma v. Juma, 2013 ONSC 904 http://canlii.ca/t/fw6gg
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