Spousal Support Variation – Reduction in Payor’s Income Upon Retirement – Case Review: Wright v Lavoie, 2016 ONSC 3909 (CanLii)

By way of background, the parties separated in October 2010 after an 11 year common law relationship. They resolved their issues after a lengthy court battle. The wife was granted, by way of Hon. Gauthier‘s order of November 19, 2014, spousal support in the amount of $1,597 per month.

Upon retirement at less than 60 years old, the husband commenced a variation proceeding of the spousal support order claiming material change in circumstances due to reduction in income and requesting for termination of Hon. Gauther’s support order. As of December 1, 2014 the husband , aged d58, was receiving a pension of about $68,677 per year while the wife, aged 60, continued to work and her income was $59,165.36.

Hon. Del Frate reduced the amount of support to $319.00 per month, which is the midpoint for spousal guidelines, retroactive to January 1, 2015. This left the wife with significant overpayment to be paid back to the husband which eventually delayed her commence date for support.

My view of this case is that it is difficult to reconcile with other cases where judges have declined to reduce support based on early retirement. The case provides no analysis on this issue i.e. whether the husband had the option to continue working passed the age he chose to retire. Further, there is no analysis why a midpoint spousal support amount was granted instead of a highpoint amount given the long length of relationship of 22 years.

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