Matrimonial Confidential: A Cautionary Tale of Family Law

Barney and Mandi sort out support

divorce law featureMandi took a deep sip of her Pino Grigio. It was light as air and her mood lifted with it. All the same thoughts floating about, but bearable now. She held the oversized glass up and out, straight-armed. “Barney, top me up, will you?”

“Sweetie,” Barney replied, spilling a bit in the glass and a bit on the leathered granite counter, “remember it’s Tuesday! Still have to get the Munchkins off to school tomorrow.”

Mandy waved him off. “Not tomorrow, they are with He-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named. It’s his mid-week overnight visit. He’s probably ignoring my little guys right now, to canoodle with The Swede.”

Barney settled himself on the high kitchen stool, plucking a couple of Cheerios out of the crack between the back and the seat and flicking them into the sink with “that” look on his face. It occurred to Mandi he spent a little too long washing his hands after.

“They’re Cheerios for F-sake! You try to keep up with a five and a seven year old and hold down a full time job!” Mandi felt better when he patted her silky hair and splashed just a little bit more into her glass.

“Catch me up, Kitten!” Barney did his best to pay full attention, but couldn’t help but feel his kitchen stool might be hiding more than just Cheerios in the gap.

“Well,” Mandi replied, “I met with my lawyer today and he set it all out for me. We had a 10-year marriage and lived together for four years before that. Did you know that counts? Remember that crappy job I took serving tables at Jack Master’s so we could pay the rent while He-Who went back to York to complete his MBA? That counts too! Remember how we agreed I would stay home with the Munchkins until they went to school? Then, I couldn’t get a managerial position in the restaurant biz and had to go back to serving?” Mandi’s voice quickened as her emotions rose to the surface. “It all counts!”

Barney’s drama antennae pricked up. Rolling with it now, he jumped in, “Yeah, and then he had that affair with The Swede while you were still together! Argh!” Mandi’s lovely green eyes pooled, “Nah, Barney, that didn’t count.”

“Ah, Sweetie, you’ll be alright. What does it all count toward?”

“Spousal support, my Barn. Maybe I won’t have to leave my gorgeous waterfront home! I am meeting with my lawyer again next week with the financials and he’ll give me a better sense of all this, going forward. Just one thing though. He asked me to bring in that pesky marriage contract that He-Who’s parents made us sign. You remember? Right before the wedding? What could that have to do with anything?”

“Oh, Kitten, don’t think of it tonight. It will all work out! Let’s finish this plonk and get out of the kitchen. CNN is re-running the latest Kennedy episode!”

Meanwhile, back at the Shop, Lawyer Gregor pecks out a Memo to File:

New Client Matter: Mandi K.

Couple recently separated.

14-year combined marriage and cohabitation.

Husband has moved from the matrimonial home and re-partnered. He continues for the time being, to pay most of the household bills including the mortgage and taxes.

Two children. Healthy boys, ages seven and five. Both in school full-time.

Temporary parenting arrangements are amicable. Primary residence is with wife, husband having children for mid-week overnight access, and two of three weekends to accommodate Wife’s work schedule. Husband seeks fully shared residency of children. Wife considering this.

Client has a claim to spousal support based on need and compensatory principles. Husband has an income in the mid-six figures. Wife’s base salary $28,000. Wife works shifts in service industry. Almost full-time hours. She will have to account for tips in calculation of her income for support purposes. Wife suffered career disruption by reason of sacrifices made to increase husband’s career prospects and to be caregiver to children during their infancy and pre-school.

Issues to flag

  • What is wife’s ability to increase her income to meet her obligation under the Divorce Act to contribute to her own support and that of the children?
  • Wife wishes to retain the matrimonial home, but may need significant financial support from husband.
  • Does either party owe a property settlement to the other? Financial disclosure has yet to be produced.
  • Will the support needs of the parties influence the negotiation over residency of the children?
  • Wife discloses existence of marriage contract. Contents of contract could dramatically affect the outcome.

Discuss with client at next meeting. L.G.

For the next issue of Matrimonial Confidential, watch for or subscribe to today.

Family Lawyer Donna MacfarlaneDonna Macfarlane,
Partner in HGR Graham Partners,
Family Law, Wills and Estates.

Author: Lifestyles Author

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