How to Handle a Foreign Spousal Support Order in BC Court

Buckley v. Morgan, 2015 BCSC 2025, is an excellent primer on the basic principles of BC spousal support claims and interjurisdictional support orders.

The Applicant applied in BC Supreme Court to set aside a Nova Scotia spousal support order and cancel arrears flowing from a long marriage. There was a history of family violence including two convictions for the Applicant and various other instances of abuse. The Applicant was age 59 and the Respondent 61. She worked early on in the marriage but towards the end she managed the household and became financially dependent on the Applicant. They entered a consent order for spousal support. The negotiation was marred by family violence. The Respondent essentially fled Nova Scotia to live with her child in BC, whom she was financially dependent upon. The Respondent could not achieve self-sufficiency due, in part, to the family violence.

Predictably, citing Chutter v. Chutter, Moge v. Moge, and W. v. W., the Court ordered ongoing spousal support on compensatory and non-compensatory bases, and reviewed the seminal principles of spousal support law.

The Court also reviewed the basic principles underlying the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act, legislation allowing BC courts to handle child and spousal support orders from other jurisdictions. Part 4 deals with varying support orders and Division 2 applies where the applicant is outside BC.

Section 30 outlines the evidence the Court must consider (generally any relevant evidence) and empowers the Court to demand further information from the applicant. If it does not receive said information within 12 months, it may dismiss the application.

Section 32 outlines the Court’s powers, specifically: vary the order, make an interim order and adjourn the application, adjourn without an interim order, and refuse to vary. The Court may also order periodic or lump sum payments, encumber property with the order, deal with retroactive issues, and address certain specific expenses.

Section 33 allows the Court to make an order if the respondent does not respond to the application.

Counsel should, as always, carefully review the legislation, but Buckley is a good starting point for handling such claims.