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A family law nightmare: Man pays more in support than he earns

A good plan is to hope for the best and plan for the worst. Worst-case scenarios do not always happen in family law cases in Alberta. When they do, however, they provide a painful example of how far wrong a situation can go, and show why one should always do everything one can to achieve the best possible result. A man in another province now regrets his decision to represent himself in court after a judge awarded more support to his ex-wife and child than the man earns each month.

As part of their divorce, a man and a woman went to court in June 2012, to resolve the issues of child and spousal support. The man had sold his 50 percent share of a flooring business and was working as a salesperson at the same business. Believing the man had done so deliberately to earn less money, the judge based his award on an imputed salary. Despite claiming a monthly wage of $5,400 before taxes, the judge awarded nearly $6,900 in combined support each month.

Despite his best efforts, the man gradually fell behind on payments. At one point, his passport was taken from him, and now his driver's licence is in jeopardy. Repeated efforts to have the amount changed have gone nowhere, and his ex-wife has used legal means to hold up the proceedings. Though a judge finally ruled in his favour in Nov. 2016, he is $500,000 behind, he and his new wife have moved in with his parents, and they supplement their income holding estate sales. His ex-wife currently earns $100,000 annually in wages and benefits as a teacher.

Though a courtroom can be an unpredictable place, had the man used a lawyer during the initial hearing, things may have turned out differently. An Alberta lawyer is uniquely qualified to assist with all manner of family law issues. A lawyer will use his or her knowledge and professional experience to help bring about the best possible results.

Source: canadianjusticereviewboard.ca, "Family Law: Fighting a System We Can't Get Out Of", Christie Blatchford, April 5, 2017

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