Family Mediators Should Note New BCCA Decision on Spousal Support

Today we welcome a guest post by Marlene Russo, lawyer and mediator in Victoria BC.  Marlene is also Mediate BC’s Mediation Advisor in the Victoria Justice Access Centre.

The October 2014 BC Court of Appeal decision in McKenzie v. McKenzie might well end up being a game changer for family mediators and lawyers in BC. The parties had been married for 12 years. There were no children of the marriage. Both spouses had incomes in the top 2% of Canadians, with the husband having the larger income.  The wife claimed spousal support.

The Court clearly stated that they must not only consider the familiar question of whether the wife had been disadvantaged by her marriage (she hadn’t been), but referred to two prior Court of Appeal cases (Chutter 2008 and Bell 2009) to clarify an additional issue as follows:

In long term marriages such as this one, the spouses should not be economically disadvantaged by the breakdown of the marriage.

The Court granted the wife spousal support. It is now clear that being economically self-sufficient does not prevent a successful claim from being made.

This is a case worth reading and talking about as it seems to resolve a long-standing debate on the issue. You can find it easily on the CanLII website.

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