High Income Short Marriage Spousal Support

The recent of case of Ahmad v. Khalid, 2016 ONSC 5595 deals with spousal support payable by a high income earner in the context of a short marriage.

In this case, the parties were married in a religious ceremony on February 22, 2013 and a civil ceremony on November 22, 2013. A child was born on January 9, 2015. On February 14, 2015, initiated divorce proceedings in the local US jurisdiction. Wife returned to her parents’ residence in Brampton, Ontario, shortly thereafter. Husband earned the equivalent of $324,640.00 CDN as a US doctor while wife had no income at the time of separation. Wife started a master’s degree program in health administration when she was three months pregnant and completed her first term.

One of the questions before Justice Emery was whether the wife was entitled to receive spousal support and, if so, in what amount.

Justice Emery determined that wife was clearly entitled on a compensatory basis. Although it was a short marriage and wife was living comfortably in her parents’ home, she did put her education and career on hold to move to the USA and have a child with husband. The Court was also persuaded by the fact that wife was the primary caregiver of the child. Spousal support was awarded at the low range of $7,500.00 month on an interim basis.

In reaching conclusions on entitlement and quantum, Justice Emery commented on husband’s ability to pay, noting his high income and significant expenses. One such expense was monthly mortgage payment in the amount of $3,673.00 on a home purchased after separation. Justice Emery stated this expense could not assist in limiting his spousal support obligation towards wife because the house is an investment that will either generate income of appreciate in value. The message, it seems, is that hiding behind high expenses will not help limit spousal support obligations and a payor who engages such a tactic does so at their own peril.

Jeffrey L. Hartman