Hesketh v. Brooker – Early Retirement and Spousal Support

Background

The Applicant husband was 56 years old and working for the Ministry of Transportation, where he earned approximately $100,000 per year. He resigned from this position and began collecting a pension in March 2012, attributing his decision to retire to his poor health.

Thereafter, he sought an order varying a divorce order which provided that he was to pay spousal support of $2,200 per month to the Respondent wife, aged 62, for an indeterminate period. More particularly, the Applicant sought a reduction of his spousal support obligation and to set a termination date for when his payments would conclude.

At the time of trial, the Respondent was unemployed and had not worked since she was laid off almost seven years earlier. She claimed to be unable to work due to her obligation to care for her elderly parents.

Analysis

At the outset of its analysis, the court reviewed the law on voluntary retirement, emphasizing that the inquiry in each case must be fact-driven.

The Applicant testified that he did not intend to retire before age 55 or any later than age 65, but was required to do so due to his health problems. However, he did not put forth any medical evidence to support this assertion.

Absent such evidence, the court was not satisfied that the Applicant’s decision to retire was not just a voluntary one as opposed to one that was medically necessary and recommended.

Moreover, the court reasoned that as the Applicant knew that his unilateral retirement would significantly impact the Respondent, he had a duty to provide evidence that his decision was made in good faith and on appropriate grounds.

Having regard to the foregoing, the court dismissed the Applicant’s case.

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