Court Cases & Orders

He Said, She Said: Did Husband Ask Wife Not to Work During Marriage? Or Did Wife Refuse to Get a Job?


He Said, She Said: Did Husband Ask Wife Not to Work During Marriage? Or Did Wife Refuse to Get a Job?

This was an interim spousal support claim by the wife, in a situation where she and the husband had lived together common law for a period spanning somewhere between 11 and 13 years. Both were now 65 years old.

In the context of determining the proper amount, the wife claimed that she had never worked outside the home during the marriage because the husband had asked her not to. The husband’s version was different, with the court explaining it this way:

[The wife] therefore says that as a result of her absence from the workforce, at [the husband’s] request, she was economically disadvantaged by the division of labour during their relationship. [The husband] denies this and says she refused to seek employment during their relationship in spite of his encouragement that she do so.

The court evidently accepted the wife’s version, because it awarded her the full support she was asking for.

In doing so, it considered that she was currently earning about $16,000 per year, while the husband was self-employed as a commercial freight broker. His exact income, however, was the subject of some speculation because he had not made full financial disclosure, despite the wife’s request. Also, while for the year 2013 he reported an income of only $20,000, the court noted that he leased two luxury vehicles, and travelled frequently. His banking activity and payment history on almost $185,000 owing on eight different credit cards also belied the reported income amount. Finally, on an immigration application for his cousin, he also claimed to be earning $240,000, which the court found was closer to the real amount. After making various adjustments the court ultimately settled on an imputed income to the husband of almost $135,000.

In the end, the court found that the wife had been economically disadvantaged during the marriage, and after taking into account other factors, ordered the husband to pay her over $3,700 per month, plus $14,500 in retroactive support that he should have been paying all along.

Tarnowski v. Bober (2014), 2014 CarswellOnt 15416, 2014 ONSC 6271, Price J. (Ont. S.C.J.) [Ontario]


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About the author

Russell Alexander

Russell Alexander is the Founder & Senior Partner of Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers.