Spousal support hearing goes badly for man representing himself

On behalf of Gary Kirk of Kirk Montoute LLP posted in Family Law on Friday, April 14, 2017.

The culture of “do-it-yourself” has permeated nearly every aspect of life in Alberta. While some tasks, such as minor home renovations or car repairs, are perfectly fine to tackle on one’s own, some jobs are best left to professionals. A man in eastern Canada who represented himself at a child and spousal support hearing ended up with an unmanageable financial obligation, and regrets for his lack of courtroom skills.

The hearing concluded on June 11, 2012. In his ruling, the judge declared the ex-husband was intentionally under-employed after selling his stake in the flooring business where he worked. He therefore based child and spousal support on an imputed salary, and not the $65,000 per year the man claimed. The result was a monthly support obligation that exceeded his monthly wages by around $1,400.

Though he would later employ lawyers to help his cause, the damage was already done. His ex-wife met his attempts to have the amount reduced by motions for summary judgment. Even though the motions were dismissed, they stalled the process and no changes have been made to the support amount. The 51-year-old man has fallen behind on his payments by $500,000, and now lives with his parents.

There are never any guarantees when child and spousal support are decided in court. However, it is generally best to go in with the support of an experienced lawyer by one’s side. A lawyer’s understanding of divorce law and Alberta family law could make the difference between a manageable monetary obligation and a crippling financial burden.

Source: Vancouver Sun, “Ontario father paying twice his after-tax monthly income to his ex-wife”, Christie Blatchford, April 4, 2017

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