Spousal and Child Support: conduct and retroactive awards

Disputes involving financial matters on divorce, such as spousal support and child support, are a potential source of much stress and heartache, but cooperation between the parties makes the path of resolution smoother and quicker.  The experienced divorce and family team at Rogerson Law Group has years of experience successfully representing clients on financial remedies.

Duress and spousal support

Reports and accounts of disputes over financial matters involving a spouse being threatened, tarnished, deceived or otherwise badly treated in the course of negotiations, are not uncommon.  We have seen accounts in the press of:

  • Sworn financial statements never completed
  • Divorces granted without the wife knowing her legal rights
  • Failure by the husband to disclose assets
  • Violence and aggression towards the spouse
  • Broken promises as to financial support, splitting the assets and pensions

As a general rule, the support recipient may be able to have a spousal support order made retroactive to the time when the payor spouse’s ‘blameworthy’ conduct began.   The courts have given examples of blameworthy conduct as incomplete or misleading financial disclosure – but could include the above scenarios.

Child support

The behaviour of the paying party where child support is involved is an important factor.  In a notable ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada, it was stated: “Courts should not hesitate to take into account a [payor’s] blameworthy conduct in considering the propriety of a retroactive award.  Further, I believe courts should take an expansive view of what constitutes blameworthy conduct in this context1.  Blameworthy conduct can, for instance, include intentionally hiding financial assets, intimidation, and misleading the recipient.

Limitation period

It’s important to understand that limitation periods exist during which time a claim can be brought against the other party.  This means you cannot generally go to court after the expiration of the limitation period. Our team can advise about whether the relevant limitation periods would have an impact on your case. 

How can we help?

If you think you have been unfairly treated during the course of your divorce and negotiations over a financial settlement, or if you want to apply to vary an existing order, it is important to take legal advice urgently before it is too late.   Contact the experienced Toronto divorce lawyers at Rogerson Law Group for advice and support.

Contact us now for urgent advice. Contact us now at enquiries@rogersonlaw.com