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Support in high asset divorce based on all income sources

Many affluent men and women derive their income from a variety of sources, and they are not always consistent. However, when it comes to settling a divorce and awarding spousal support, the two parties involved may not agree on what income should be considered. A judge recently made a ruling on a high asset divorce case that may be of interest to any person in a similar situation, whether living here in Alberta or elsewhere.

A well-off couple from a tony neighbourhood in Toronto, chose to end their 23-year marriage. They had enjoyed a lavish lifestyle complete with a large home, vacation property, and private school educations for their three children. The husband was successful in the real estate business, and the wife was a former lawyer who had stayed home with the children. She asked the court to award her interim support payments based on his annual income, which she claimed was $1.8 million.

The man argued that he in fact had an annual income closer to $275,000. A recent capital gain from a real estate transaction had provided a one-time surge in his income, he claimed, and that without the support of his parents over the years, including $80,000 tuition fees paid for each child, he and his wife could not have afforded the life they were leading. He requested payments be based on the figures he presented.

In his decision, the judge noted that the husband drove a new Mercedes and paid $12,000 per month in rent. His annual expenditures exceeded $550,000, excluding the tuition amounts. According to the judge, his wife was entitled to continue leading the same type of life she was accustomed to, regardless of where the money had been coming from. She was awarded payments of $9,376 per month until the case went to court.

Whether one expects to be paying or receiving spousal support, the issue can become quite convoluted, especially in the case of a high asset divorce. It is important to be thoroughly prepared before going before a judge and requesting a settlement. As part of that preparation, it may be a good idea to contact an Alberta family law attorney. An experienced lawyer may be able to help bring about a desirable outcome.

Source:, "Crying poor doesn't work Mercedes-driving lawyer in divorce court", Michele Mandel, Jan. 20, 2017

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