IT’S THE LAW – By Stuart D. Robertson
What would you do if you were the judge? Judges decide the facts based on evidence put before them, and then apply the law. Here is a fact pattern. How would you decide who was at fault? Fact patterns similar to this one are often presented in court and assessed by judges. Test your judgment!
Will and Grace were married for 25 years and had 2 children together. Grace gave up her job as an administrative assistant to stay at home with the children while they were young. Will continued to work at his job at ABC Incorporated throughout the marriage, where he worked his way up the corporate ladder to become Vice-President.
The parties separated. Grace had already gone back to work and was able to find work at the same company she had worked at previously, despite the 12 years off. As part of their divorce order, Will agreed to pay spousal support to Grace. However, before the parties were finally divorced, both Will and Grace had entered into new relationships. Grace, in particular, had fallen in love with Jack, the Vice-President of ABC Inc.’s main competitor XYZ Inc. Grace and Jack had been together for about a year but were not yet living together at the time of the divorce. Will was aware of this arrangement.
Fast forward 3 years later. While Will’s new relationship did not last, Grace’s relationship persevered. Grace and Jack were now married. Shortly after the marriage, Will brought a court application to cancel the spousal support he was paying Grace.
If You Were the Judge, How Would You Decide?
In order for Will to be successful in varying the support order, he needs to establish that there was a material change in circumstances from the date of the divorce order. When the divorce order was made, Will was aware that Grace was in a new committed relationship with someone of similar financial means to him. As a result, the court found that there had not been a material change in circumstance despite Grace getting remarried. The court found that Grace’s re-partnering was a reasonably foreseeable event that was known at the time of the original order and therefore did not warrant a variation of the existing order.
Cases such as the above are often very complex. If you have a situation similar to the above, we recommend you obtain legal advice to address your particular factual scenario.
Stuart D. Robertson is a lawyer who practices in Cloverdale with the firm MacMillan Tucker & Mackay at 5690 – 176A Street, Cloverdale (Surrey), B.C. At MacMillan Tucker & Mackay, lawyers are available to answer questions about wills and estates, ICBC claims, personal injury, professional negligence, family matters and other issues. If you require legal assistance, please call (604) 574-7431 to book an appointment.