Did you know that divorce is illegal in Canada?
It’s essentially true: after a separation, the spouse with the higher income forfeits to the courts control of their financial, professional, and even aspects of their personal life:
- You will be required to make payments — often onerous amounts — regardless of your income, even if it is literally zero; even if you have to default on other payments; even if you have to forfeit your home.
- The Canadian courts have the power to override legal documents such as separation agreements and prenuptial agreements.
- All of your assets — including those awarded to you in your separation agreement, or obtained after divorce — are essentially jointly owned by, and accessible to, your former partner. The division of assets does not end with a separation agreement or divorce; and it is one-way, in favour of the recipient.
- You may not be allowed any hobbies, interests, or other non-essential activities; according to case law any discretionary income is not yours to spend. You may not be legally permitted to purchase anything beyond food and shelter.
- The court can dictate the direction of your career, for instance by prohibiting you from starting a business.
- You may never be permitted to retire; and even if you could, support payments are often so high that saving is not possible.
- You will not be permitted ever to earn less money than you did at the time of divorce, regardless of economic or other factors, even worldwide pandemics.
- Earning more money is risky, as it can trigger a court case and set an even higher bar for what you are expected to earn until you drop dead.
- You are effectively prevented from cohabiting or getting remarried, as it would put your new partner’s earnings and assets at risk of garnishment or confiscation.
- Tax law discriminates against support payors, who cannot write off legal fees while the recipient can.
- Spousal support survives bankruptcy.
- Punishments for inability to pay include cancellation of driver’s license and passport; garnishment of wages and confiscation of financial assets; and incarceration.
Spousal support payors in Canada are declaring bankruptcy, going homeless, and even committing suicide.
Current spousal support laws, guidelines, and judgements in Canada are not resulting in fairness for both parties in a divorce. For more details and references to case law, see The Appalling Realities of Canadian Spousal Support. For a detailed snapshot of a single case, see Spousal Support: An Open Letter to the Canadian Justice System.
We are a community of support payors working to challenge the status quo and make positive change. To be clear, we are addressing spousal support, not child support. And this situation does not only apply to men; there are women in this position, including a co-founder of this site. If you are a payor — or have any input on the issue — please get in touch.