This matter proceeded before the court as an uncontested trial in October of 2023 whereby the Applicant sought orders in respect of equalization, spousal support, occupational rent and costs. This blog will focus on the courts decision regarding equalization and spousal support.
The issue of equalization turned on the value of the parties’ business which they started and operated together during their marriage. Both parties worked for the business full time since its incorporation in 2012. Each party owned 50% of the shares. After the parties’ separation, the Respondent effectively cut the Applicant out of the business.
With regard to spousal support, the Applicant sought an Order for a lump sum payment. The party’s marriage was 8.5 years long. They lived together for 9 months prior to their marriage. They have no children together. At the time of the separation, the Applicant was 42 years old.
In determining the proper amount for equalization, the court estimated the value of the business based on the disclosure that had been provided, and through drawing an adverse inference against the Respondent for failing to produce the required financial disclosure. The court agreed with the Applicant that the entire value of the corporation should be put on the Respondent’s side of their Net Family Property Statement and held the Respondent was the sole owner of the corporation because he had seized the corporation, kept all of its assets for himself and ousted the Applicant from the business despite her being an equal partner.
In the court’s analysis regarding spousal support, the court found that the Applicant had a claim for needs-based spousal support. The court noted that the parties were equal partners in a business they grew together and after their separation, the Respondent took over the business and thwarted the Applicant’s ability to earn an income in that business as she had been previously doing. The Respondent further kept all of the equipment for the business, and as such, the Applicant could not successfully start her own business of a similar nature as she did not have the required equipment.
Further, in January 2020, the Applicant was involved in a car accident. She then fell into a depression and suffered from migraines and insomnia. She relapsed in her recovery as an alcoholic.
The court therefore held that the Applicant experienced significant financial hardship because of the breakdown of the party’s marriage and the Respondent’s conduct post-separation. She suffered a dramatic drop in her standard of living and as such, the court found she had a claim for needs based spousal support.
The court was skeptical whether periodic support, if ordered, would be paid as the Respondent had a history of not complying with court Orders and has shown a general disrespect for the court process by failing to attend court appearances. At the time of the uncontested trial, the Respondent had been evicted from the matrimonial home, he had a judgment against him due to defaulting on his mortgage, and it was unclear where he was in general or what his financial circumstances were. As such, the court held that a lump sum support order in these circumstances was appropriate.
The court made an Order for the Respondent to make an equalization payment to the Applicant as well as an Order for the Respondent to pay the Applicant lump sum spousal support.