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Family Law: Spousal Support After Divorce in Canada Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jan 24th, 2021

Introduction

The issue of spousal support has elicited various reactions in several divorce cases in the country. Several rulings have been made which require some divorced spouses to continue enjoying financial support from their former partners due to various reasons. The most common reasons that influence a court to award or deny spousal support in divorce cases include economic issues, medical problems, mortgage repayments, and other reasons. This paper will discuss the issue of spousal support by analyzing several divorce cases in Canada. The paper will also analyze the impacts of these rulings on parties involved to determine if they are similar or different from the Aspe v. Aspe case.

Self –Reliance

The Moge v. Moge case of 1993 showed how a wife who has been financially dependent on her husband deserves to be given spousal support after divorce. The case was based on the 1985 Divorce Act which stipulated that economic support should be done in a way that gives parties to a divorce a fair and equitable share of all proceeds that result from it. The basis of the ruling focused on whether Mrs. Moge was in a position to sustain the standard of living she was accustomed to when she was still married to her ex-husband. The ruling in the Moge v. Moge case upheld spousal support for Mrs. Moge who had depended on Mr. Moge for all her material needs during their marriage. Arguments made by the ruling observed that Mrs. Moge had voluntarily chosen to stay at home which denied her a chance to utilize her professional skills to become self-sufficient (Boyd, 2010). Therefore, the divorce was a disadvantage because she was not financially stable to cater to her own needs.

This view is similar to the ruling made in the Aspe v Aspe case which granted Ms. Aspe spousal support from her husband for the next two years to allow her to become more self-sufficient. The court adjusted the spousal payments upwards due to increases in the cost of living after the initial amount had been awarded to Ms. Aspe, 16 years before. This case shows that a working spouse has a financial obligation to support the other spouse who does not have a regular source of income. However, the Aspe v Aspe case differs from the Moge v. Moge because Ms. Aspe was granted spousal support for only two years, after which a review would be done to determine if she was in a position to be self-sufficient or not (Aspe v. Aspe, 2010). The arguments made in the Aspe v. Aspe ruling show spousal support issues are resolved differently. Parties that seek spousal support need to explain why they deserve to be awarded such payments.

In the Hickey v. Hickey case (1999) the court ruled that the respondent, Walter Hickey, stop paying child support for his daughter who was no longer living with his ex-wife. However, after Walter appealed, the court upheld the previous decision that increased the spousal support amount given to Patricia Hickey. This ruling differs from that made in Aspe v. Aspe which required Mr. Aspe to give his ex-wife spousal support for two more years, after which she was required to become self-reliant (Aspe v. Aspe, 2010). The high cost of living was taken into consideration which made judges in both cases award higher spousal support amounts to both Mrs. Hickey and Mrs. Aspe.

Arguments that influenced the ruling in the Hickey v Hickey case focused on economic advantages and disadvantages likely to be experienced by each party due to the divorce. The judgment in the Hickey v Hickey (1999) case maintained the amount of spousal support at 1,000 dollars per month because Patricia Hickey had all the qualifications needed to get employment. This view was similar to the argument made in the Aspe v Aspe (2010) case where Stella Aspe was given more time to become self-sufficient because she had the necessary qualifications. In effect, these two decisions are similar in the way the spousal support doctrine was applied. Both Stella and Patricia were required to engage in activities that would allow them to become financially independent.

The court’s decision in the Leskun v. Leskun case (2006) mandated that Gary Leskun pay his wife, Sherry, spousal support estimated at 2, 250 dollars per month (Boyd, 2010, p. 251). However, Gary appealed this decision and the previous ruling was maintained. Gary’s appeal application argued about his unemployment status that made it difficult for him to pay spousal support to his wife as instructed by the court. Appellant judges differed with his arguments because they felt his financial status was stable. They argued he had enough investments to help him perform his spousal support obligations. Injuries sustained by Sherry during their marriage were sufficient to qualify her plea for spousal support because she was not able to work and support herself. Her inability to find work was used as a basis to award her spousal support, a criterion that was also used in the Aspe v Aspe ruling.

The economic disadvantage suffered by Sherry due to her medical condition was a solid basis for her to be given spousal support by the court because it had resulted in the termination of her employment. This differs from the view held in Aspe v. Aspe because the court felt Sherry Leskun was not in a position to get other employment opportunities related to her professional training (Boyd, 2010, p. 252). Employers were unwilling to hire her because of her negative medical history. The issue of spousal misconduct also came up in this trial, a factor that was never mentioned in the Aspe v. Aspe case. Judges argued the previous ruling made by the lower court should not have relied on Gary’s marital misconduct to award Sherry spousal support. The appeal court also faulted Sherry for not making any effort to become financially independent even though the trial had taken a long time to resolve. This shows misconduct is not regarded as a weighty factor in adjudicating cases that relate to spousal support disputes.

Claims made by Sherry about medical problems that barred her from working were also featured in the Aspe v. Aspe case. In effect, Stella had also claimed that she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder that made it difficult for her to seek employment. The court’s judges argued Mrs. Aspe’s claims were not reliable because they did not give valid reasons that justified her failure to seek employment. Ms. Aspe was awarded two more years of spousal support after which a review would be done to determine if she had become self-sufficient or not. This was a departure from the view taken by judges in the Leskun v. Leskun case. Sherry was awarded spousal support after judges made an analysis of her medical facts and felt her health was failing and she was not able to work. In effect, she had to continue relying on her former husband for economic support. The Aspe v. Aspe case shows that spouses are required to produce evidence of any medical problems that hinder them from working by showing valid medical reports (Aspe v. Aspe, 2010).

Negotiated Agreements

The Miglin v. Miglin case of 2003 showed mutual agreements between divorcing spouses were legally binding. Therefore, this made it difficult for both parties to disregard their legal obligations enforced in their mutual agreements. Mrs. Linda Miglin sought relief from the court to obtain spousal support from her former husband. She claimed the agreement she signed was not serving her right because her financial status had worsened (Boyd, 2010, p. 247). However, the goodwill that made the two parties sign the agreement waived their rights to obtain other forms of financial benefits from each other. The circumstances that surround this case show that negotiated settlements offer alternative arbitration channels to parties involved in divorce disputes. Arguments highlighted, in this case, differ from those advanced in Aspe v. Aspe, where the parties involved did not have any form of out of court agreements to help them iron out their spousal support dispute (Aspe v. Aspe, 2010).

The Miglin v Miglin case shows prior agreements between parties involved in a divorce case have to be given credence when resolving marital disputes between two parties. The court argued mutual agreements reached have to be certain, conclusive and they should grant each party financial independence. As a consequence, this line of thought was used to disqualify Mrs. Miglin from getting any form of spousal support from her husband (Boyd, 2010, p. 250). This differs from issues highlighted in Aspe v Aspe where the two parties were not able to reach an agreement regarding the division of their joint marital property and other financial settlements. The court had to look at circumstances surrounding the agreement signed by the two parties to ensure they agreed to conditions set voluntarily. This case differs from Aspe v. Aspe and other cases discussed because it released both parties from any form of spousal support because of the prior agreement that existed between them.

References

Aspe v. Aspe., 508 B.C.C.A. 037001 (2010).

Boyd, N. (2010). Canadian law: An introduction. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Hickey v. Hickey, 518 S.C.C 26430 (1999).

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IvyPanda. "Family Law: Spousal Support After Divorce in Canada." January 24, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/family-law-spousal-support-after-divorce-in-canada/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Family Law: Spousal Support After Divorce in Canada." January 24, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/family-law-spousal-support-after-divorce-in-canada/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Family Law: Spousal Support After Divorce in Canada'. 24 January.

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