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Financial Issues This forum is for discussing any of the financial issues involved in your divorce.

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Old 08-27-2008, 12:29 AM
maurice maurice is offline
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Default Ex Spouse Refuses to Work

I just joined Ottawa Divorce and have spent a few hours reading posts. I have a question for those with greater or different experience than my own.
I was married for 11 years, and have 2 kids (15 & 11 now). We separated in 1998, the kids staying with their mom. I had ample visitation every weekend. Divorce was finalised in 2000 by amicable agreement with child and spousal support. We jointly owned a house where the ex and kids continued to live. We agreed that my ex would make an effort to become self-supporting in a "reasonable" amount of time, and furthermore we agreed to wait 3 years until youngest was in Grade 1 (2003) before we would discuss sale of the family home. 2003 came and went, and the ex had made no plans to re-educate or to work, so we agreed to extend the agreement first by 6 months, then another six months. 2004 came and went, with no change in the situation. By 2005 I had a meeting with the ex and asked how the plans for work were coming along. My ex claimed that there was a plan, but that I was putting too much pressure and that we needed mediation. We went to a provincially-funded mediator in fall 2005, who stated that my ex needed to make a better effort to find some work, and asked her to come up with a plan. During several follow-up meetings, my ex presented several plans, all of which fell through. Back to square one.
My ex still lived in the family home, which by agreement I still owned 60% (and she 40%). I lived in a 1 bedroom apartment which I bought with an inheritance. My kids now were spending every weekend plus extra sleepovers at my place. The apt. was getting too small. I slept on the livingroom couch for the last 7 years, with no privacy, while the kids occupied the bedroom with all their stuff. I couldn't afford to buy a larger place while still paying CS and SS, but I hoped to get my equity out of the family home through a sale to a third party. The ex resisted strongly, saying that the "wolves were at the door" and I was trying to put her out on the street. The problem was that she had no income other than SS and a nominal job at the school board ($360 per month).
I went back to my lawyer and he prepared an application to supreme court to have the family home sold before the end of 2007. The case was successful (though, my costs were around $5000 and I paid my ex's legal bill of $2500). We received a decision that the family home must be sold on or before Dec. 1, 2007.
My ex somehow managed to secure financing and told me that she wanted to buy out my portion of the house, which she did. I used the money to buy a 3 bedroom condo in the same neighbourhood with my ex (so that the kids could commute back and forth). But now both kids have moved into my house full time. Our daughter wants nothing to do with her mom.
My ex has still not found any employment, though she has mentioned the possibility of more work with the school board. She claimed dire straits with her new mortgage, and I voluntarily increased her support to cover the period until her "new job" is supposed to start up. As well, I paid an additional $10,000 to her for home upgrades.
Now we are bickering over how much SS and CS should be. It's a bit of a mess, since the kids are, in fact, living with me 24/7. We have "joint custody". The ex is up to her neck in mortgage debt and needs a hefty increase in income to survive and not lose her house.
I think I've been generous with the ex, but at the same time I believe she should make some effort to support herself. She will never be able to financially contribute to the kids' education or other needs.
But how do you make someone work? She claimed that she gave up a career to look after the kids while I worked and furthered my career. Fair enough. Now that the kids are older, she could have gotten an education and gone back to work, but she does nothing. If I have to pay SS so be it, but with two households between us to maintain, our standard of living will be quite low.
Old 08-27-2008, 08:44 AM
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I feel you have a very strong well documented case of her avoiding full and meaningful employment.

You have demonstrated an extreme effort to help her at every turn and for that I would easily feel that a court would also agree, and I would venture that they would terminate the SS, and possible order her to pay CS to you given that the children now reside with you.

The children moving to your place basically 100% of the time, means a material change for them, which would warrant a motion to vary CS and SS.
If she claims that she gave up something to raise the children, you have a counter since you have paid SS and the $10,000 Plus, plus, plus. You have a strong case. The choice is yours to make.
Maybe having a motion to vary would wake her up.
Maybe once the judge told her she has had ample opportunity to better herself etc, then maybe the lights would come on for her.

You have been a pillar, it's time to shift the load bearing walls to where they belong. On her shoulders. Kudos to you for being strong, supporting the mother of your children, but enough is enough, anyone here would agree. Particularly since you should be concentrating on the children's needs not hers.

Best of luck
Old 08-27-2008, 09:38 AM
Fair4All Fair4All is offline
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From some reading I have done, and from personal experience, I have the following to offer:
1) If the courts view the spousal support as "compensatory" (ie. paying back your ex for all those years she chose to stay home, vs. grow her career), you need to look at the situation differently than if the courts view the spousal support as "needs based" (ie. your ex was never interested in a career however she came to enjoy the standard of living reached during marriage).
2) Did your ex work during the marriage? Did she in fact give up a career? Or did she claim to want a career but not put any effort into this dream?
3) In the case of "compensatory" SS, courts are reluctant to offer a time-limit. Time limits can be a motivating factor in getting someone off his/her backside.
4) Both kids live with you full-time; therefore, technically the ex could sell the house to reduce her standard of living. She has had at least 8 years to make the transition from "married and not having to work" to "divorced and having to work".
5) Take a global view of how much SS she has received from you - monthly payments and one-time payments. Then check with a lawyer as to the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAG) ranges. The SSAG are being used more often by judges. See http://
(CanLII) Fisher v Fisher 2008
Good luck!
Old 08-27-2008, 11:45 PM
looking_for_help looking_for_help is offline
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Not to sound harsh, but she is using you, and she knows if she complains enough about it to you, you'll just give in. You have to stand up to her, and say that's enough. She needs to sell the house, use the money to get out of debt and with the extra cash (there should be plenty of it)rent a apartment or buy something small and get some sort of education to support her self. Eight years of SS and CS that has to be a minimum of $2000-$3000 how do you have enough money for food?

If you take her to court you'll blow a few more thousand dollars, but at least the judge will have forced her to sell the home, and get her lazy butt off the couch. There is no for the sake of the children any more since they live with you. I know it sounds harsh and you sound like a nice guy and all but there is a point where you say that's enough, otherwise she will drag you into the same hole she is in and just keep digging.
Old 08-28-2008, 01:14 PM
singledad99 singledad99 is offline
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Totally agree with Looking For Help. I think she is totally abusing you financially. From what I understand from your post, there is not even a court order for support anymore and you agreed to extend the support voluntarily. By continuing to give in to her demands, you are actually making her more lazy and spoiled. Many of the happily married women don't even get the luxury of getting everything without working hard for it.

I would simply give her a time line, say six months or a year, and then pull the plug. Life is harsh, we all know that.
Old 08-30-2008, 02:41 PM
maurice maurice is offline
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Default thank you...

Thanks for your thoughtful replies. We are in the process now of trying to set the appropriate amount and duration of spousal support, with our lawyers.
Old 09-02-2008, 06:54 PM
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dadtotheend dadtotheend is offline
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Originally Posted by singledad99 View Post
I would simply give her a time line, say six months or a year, and then pull the plug.
How about forget about the time line, file an application and book a case conference NOW. This train needs to be derailed.
Old 09-03-2008, 09:20 AM
Fair4All Fair4All is offline
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Your original question was "how can I get my ex to work?" The answer - file for full custody of the children since they live with you 24/7 and do not even offer spousal support. It's been 9 years since the divorce, you were only married 11 years and your ex is a healthy, competent adult. Despite having received financial support from you for the 9 years, she has yet to apply herself - not your fault. Once faced with having to support herself financially, she'll work.
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