So here we are revisiting Usher Raymond IV's ("Usher") matrimonial matter. According to Fulton County Superior Court, the couple have finalized their divorce. Usher and Takeka Foster Raymond have ended their approaching two year marriage. Many reports speculate that the couple have been living separate and apart for over a year since the initial filing for divorce. Usher had initiated a filing for divorce back in June of this year.
Aside from the custody arrangement that is to be determined by the couple, there are other remaining legal issues the couple need to deal with upon their marital breakdown.
In order to satisfy the curiosity of many Ontarian minds, let's take a look at what would happen had the celebrity couple preceded with a divorce in Ontario.
In very general terms, equalization is the payment owed from one spouse to the other because one spouse has a greater net worth on the date of separation. The equalization payment is calculated by taking the net value of each spouse at the date of separation, less the net value of each spouse's property at the date of marriage, and this becomes the net family property (NFP). The spouse with the higher NFP pays the other spouse one-half the difference between the two. Hence, this becomes the equalization payment. The Court is able to vary the equalization payment if it is considered unconscionable. One of the circumstances that would be considered unconscionable is when the couple has been together for less than five years which is the case here. You can find a more detailed explanation of equalization payments here.
There are certain exclusions within the equalization payment (e.g. inheritances and damages deriving from personal injury settlements). It is important to note that equalization is not a physical division of the property.
Another contentious issue when dealing with equalization is the determination of the separation date. This date needs to be definitive because this is where assets and liabilities are valued. Hence, this is the reason that the separation date is also known as the valuation date.
In Usher's situation, one is only to watch an MTV episode of Cribs where they view the celebrity's homes and vehicles, and it is safe to say that Usher had an assortment of vehicles with an extravagant home. Based on the fact that Usher is a wealthy celebrity and his wife being his former stylist, it is likely that he would owe his wife an equalization payment.
The matrimonial home is a special type of property that requires different treatment upon martial breakdown. If both parties are on title of the matrimonial home, the net worth of the matrimonial home is equally divided between the parties. However, if one spouse bought a home before or at the date of marriage and it is the matrimonial home on the valuation date, then the owner spouse cannot deduct the marriage date value of the matrimonial home in the NFP statement. The value of the matrimonial home is included as a valuation date asset, but without any deduction.
In Usher's case, the home that the couple and their children lived in until the date of separation is considered their matrimonial home. Irrespective of who has title of the matrimonial home, both parties have equal rights to the possession of the matrimonial home. Basically, Usher would be precluded from throwing out his wife from the matrimonial home. This right would continue until the parties are no longer spouses or until an agreement or court order states otherwise.
The issue of spousal support is extremely fact driven. The circumstances, condition, and role of the spouse within the marriage are all significant factors in determining a spouse's entitlement to spousal support. Also, the length of the marriage and each party's earning capacity is considered by the Courts. The purpose of spousal support is to make individuals cognizant of the implications of entering the martial institution or a relationship with some permanence. Spousal support is meant to identify and monetarily accommodate the disadvantages spouses encounter from their marriage or its breakdown. In determining the duration of spousal support, the Courts consider the length of the marriage/relationship and the amount of time that would be required to allow the disadvantaged spouse to overcome the economic hardship. The termination of spousal support seems appropriate when the spouse becomes economically self-sufficient as far as reasonably practicable.
In Usher's case, since his marriage was short lived (they were married for almost two years), and his wife is young and able to work, it would be difficult to convince the Court that Usher's wife needs spousal support. However, Usher's wife may claim that she is entitled to spousal support in order to sustain the standard of living that was present during the marriage and prior to its breakdown. With this said, the Court takes a holistic approach, basically they consider all of the above factors in order to determine entitlement, quantum, and duration of spousal support. Also, in determining spousal support, the Court uses its discretionary power. The Court may consider the amount of the equalization payment made by Usher, and if it is a substantial amount that would not warrant the need for spousal support, the Court may not grant Usher's wife spousal support.