We are frequently consulted by clients seeking a reduction in either child or spousal support. They may come armed with the fact that a child is no longer attending school or the other spouse is now living with a new partner and seek a reduction in support.
It is not that simple and, one needs to be careful what they wish for.
What our clients frequently ignore, and we counsel them to be extremely careful about is the big picture. Once you open Pandora’s box of support that has been and should be paid, all the factors between the parties come into play.
Has the payor’s income increased since the date of the original order or agreement?
In light of the payor’s present pay, what type of support would the Child Support and Spousal Support Guidelines trigger? If one has, what in hindsight is a better than what the courts would normally grant deal, trying to shake the tree so as to have the last apple fall from it, can be a short-sighted effort.
You need an experienced family law lawyer to examine the big picture before deciding whether or not to pull the trigger on seeking a variation from the courts.
This scenario was played out in spades in the recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision in Slnogo. Mr. Slnogo, quite legitimately felt that his entitlement to pay child support for a 20 year old that was no longer attending school on a full time basis and was obviously over the age of 18 should come to an end.
On that legitimate basis, Mr. Slnogo ate the poisoned apple. He sought to eliminate child support. He also attempted to rely on the fact that he had received a lucrative early retirement package at age 53.
While Mr. Slnogo found an empathetic judge at the motion level, he did not do nearly as well on appeal. Mr. Slnogo took a circumstance in which he was required to pay spousal support of $2,650.00 per month and, by the time that the appeal was finished it was retroactively cranked up to $20,000.00 per month and then a percentage of his income from 2014 onwards.
In this case we have the intersecting issues of early retirement and whether or not that is a material change in circumstances sufficient to justify a change in support. This has been spoken of in other blog articles.
Mr. Slnogo not only received his early pension payout which exceeded a million dollars but was also able to continue to work for his former employer as a consultant at $150.00 per hour.
Who gave this gentleman advice to actually pull the trigger on seeking a variation?