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Divorce & Family Law This forum is for discussing any of the legal issues involved in your divorce.

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Old 03-24-2014, 12:04 AM
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Hello -

The overview:
Married 17 years, separated 4 years ago, no final divorce as she refused to engage until I recently threatened to sever.

She has a college degree but has never worked. I have no college degree, but have worked my ass off and been very successful.

Two children - one in college and the other is a self-sufficient teen who lives with her.

We have been separated for 4 years and she has made no effort to gain employment. I have read a lot about imputing income - I mean - how is it right for her to just sit and home and do nothing!?!?

Who has had luck with this?
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Old 03-24-2014, 12:29 PM
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Some degrees aren't worth the paper they are written on. If she has never used her degree (worked in the field she received the degree in) then it is of little use, unless, of course it is in something like Nursing or an applied science where upgrading and/or re-certification is realistic and not tremendously costly or time-consuming.

At the very least she should be imputed at minimum wage.

As SS is judged on case-by-case basis you have to consider:

Is there a "review" date in your divorce judgment?
Is SS deemed to be "indefinite" - Rule of 65?
Has there been a material change of circumstances since your divorce?

It would make sense that a material change of circumstances would be when the children no longer qualify as "children of the marriage" (not in post secondary school and who can support themselves).

There is much case law on this.

You would make a Notice of Motion to review the divorce judgment. Were you self-represented or did you retain counsel at the time of the divorce? Might be time to book an appointment with your lawyer.
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Old 03-24-2014, 12:46 PM
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She is my STBX - we are not yet divorced. Separated for 4 years. We have been in court twice and two different judges told he she was not entitled to indefinite support - that she would have to achieve self-sufficiency.

I have a lawyer but in 4 years he has never mentioned imputing income - it wasn't until I found this board that I even knew it existed.

She has made no effort in 4 years to obtain employment.

So I guess judges are inclined to do this? It is a great thing. I don't mind paying support - she is the mother of my children. However, I work 60 hours a week and have killed myself to earn a good income to provide for my family. It is time that she participate in this process as well.
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Old 03-24-2014, 05:11 PM
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A fair thing to consider, which is in my divorce judgement, was a graduated imputing of income. If you don't have this in your agreement why would she bother working?

Year one - impute minimum wage (say 25k)
Year two - impute a bit more (say 30k)
and so on (whatever suits your situation and is in line with current support she currently receives.)

The whole idea is to gradually phase her into becoming self-sufficient. That way she can make plans. She might be more motivated to update her education and can use that as a tax deduction.

The fact your lawyer didn't put any of this in place would be good reason, in my opinion, to find another lawyer.
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Old 03-25-2014, 09:21 AM
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If she has never worked in her life (17+ years) she will be unlikely to earn more than minimum wage. However she could be imputed to that, especially if she has already had 4 years to get her affairs in order and transition to being on her own. However given the length of marriage it's not a slam dunk at all.

You should expect to be paying SS for 8.5 to 17 years with the option of "forever" being very real. For a longer term marriage it is usually closer to the max duration.

There is no way to force someone to work. Imputation is the closest thing we have since it reduces their support to the point where they are encouraged to want to work to supplement their support.

My ex clearly HATES working, she whines about it regularly, but she was smart enough to do the math and realize that once her SS ran out she would either face a big expensive legal battle to try and get more, or she could start working at least part-time.

This week as we do our income taxes and look at adjusting the support I pay her, we lament that no matter how much her support keeps increasing, my son is always dressed in rags, hand me downs, stuff that is 3 sizes too small, ripped, stained, etc.
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Old 03-25-2014, 11:14 AM
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Arabian - How did you get the imputation in your divorce judgement? I assume that happened in court - he/ she didn't get agree to it? My ex would def have to be told by a judge that it's mandatory.

And, Fighting for Family -- why does your support keep going up? Is your income increasing?

Thanks all!
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Old 03-25-2014, 11:38 AM
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Arabian's suggestion of getting imputed earnings at minimum wage (which is likely what a court would grant) BUT then having it slowly increasing each year (which would mimic what would likely happen if she actually did work) is an EXCELLENT idea in my opinion. However, this would only help you on a CS basis IF you have at least 40% custody of the kids. If you don't, then her earnings (or lack thereof) has no impact on your CS. However, imputing her earnings might help you on SS issue.

Doesn't sound from what you say that your lawyer has kept you informed on options to help you (ie. imputing earnings to your ex); again as Arabian mentions you might want to look into alternate legal help.

Be aware that when your CS soon stops (by the sound of kids' ages) that stbx might come after you for MORE SS (since you have more money available due to CS ending). I would suggest you get a FIRM non-negotiable termination date of SS.

You were married 17 years, been paying support for 4 years. I would try to get an agreement for total SS of half the marriage or roughly 9 years. You've already paid 4 years, so shoot for SS ending in 5 years PERIOD.

Keep in mind SS by court order or Sep Agmt is tax DEDUCTIBLE to YOU so that helps you financially - take that into account.

Try to have it set up fairly "black and white" to reduce chances of ongoing court battles which can be expensive. Perhaps give her a set amount of money each month for the next 5 years BUT with a reduction percentage each year (ie. each year the monthly amount reduces say 10%). This gives her incentive to get off her ass and get a job....

Good luck.....
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Old 03-25-2014, 12:59 PM
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1. You should be researching on canlii.ca for similar cases
2. Expect to pay for up to the duration of the marriage
3. Her having custody entitles her to addl spousal support

Good Luck, and yes, she is entitled to sit on her ass indefinitely, they'll impute income eventually but she can do as she likes.
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Old 03-25-2014, 01:01 PM
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I have to also add that in Quebec they are getting much more strict on spousal support - they don't impute income but they give time-limited review orders where the unemployed spouse needs to prove she made efforts to work. I've been looking for how the judges behave at those reviews, not so much luck.

OP - read the SSAG to understand the entitlement aspects and why she CAN sit at home..
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Old 03-25-2014, 05:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoingForward View Post
And, Fighting for Family -- why does your support keep going up? Is your income increasing?
Yes, my income increases a tiny bit each year so my support does too.
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