A father in the Canadian provice of Ontario is required to pay twice his after-tax monthly income in spousal and child support, a newspaper reports.
The 51 year-old, from Oshawa, 60 miles east of Toronto, currently earns approximately CA $5,400 (£3,251) a month before taxes, as a consultant for a flooring company, according to the National Post. But since a family ruling in 2012, he has been required to pay his ex-wife $2,866 a month in child support, alongside no less than $4,000 in spousal support. The monthly total of $6,866 (£4,131) is, of course, around $1,400 (£842) more than his entire salary. After taxes his net income is just half the required support payment.
Remarkably, the paper reports, his former wife returned to work as a teacher two years ago and now earns much more than her former husband: around $100,000 (£60,195).
But the father of two is still struggling to persuade the courts to reduce the maintenace award. He is now hundreds of thousands of dollars in arrears, has had his passport seized and has also been threatened with the loss of his driver’s licence. His wages are ‘garnished’ (subject to automatic deductions) and he and his second wife have been forced to find approximately $650,000 (£391,495) in legal and related costs during years of litigation.
In order to try and pay the bills, the couple have been forced to sell his home, her cottage, their pensions and his 50 per cent share of the flooring business. They now rent rooms from his parents, raising extra cash through backyard and car boot sales.
At the original 2012 hearing, the judge decided the father’s sale of his share in the business meant he had deliberately decided to become “under-employed” and that he must “bear the consequences of this”. He had no legal representation at the hearing.
Since then he has twice tried to vary the order via a so-called ‘motion to change’. Both times his ex-wife has countered with an application for ‘summary judgement’ which, if successful, would have seen his motions thrown out of court. The second application for a motion to change was made at the invitation of a seemingly sympathetic family court judge who said the court would need stronger evidence his inability to pay.
But both summary judgement applications were dismissed – the second in November last year. There a judge concluded that the father was “currently suffering dire financial circumstances” and “appears to have been suffering financially for some time”.
His application should therefore go to full trial, the Judge said, but his former wife promptly appealed and the case remains pending.
His second wife, meanwhile, had, a decade previously, declined spousal support and pension sharing from her first husband. Now she finds herself on the side of the table, she told the National Post.
“[My second husband and I] are fighting a system we can’t get out of. The cogs of the wheel keep turning and we are the hockey cards jammed between the spokes.”