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Digest of the Week - Spousal Support, Determination of Quantum and COVID-19

Small v. Small | 2020 BCSC 707 | British Columbia Supreme Court


Family law --- Support — Spousal support — Determination of quantum


Parties had two children and separated in 2015 after 12 years of marriage — Wife was born in Russia, husband was born in Canada, and parties married in Japan where husband was living before moving to Canada in 2003 and living in home owned by husband and his parents — As of late 2019, husband was working as director of sales and business development with technology company and had annual salary of $80,000, with potential for annual bonus — Wife had law degree from Russia, and from November 2013 to present she taught yoga and Pilates at various studios — Since October 2019, she had also worked part-time for meal delivery service and cleaning houses — Wife's gross business income for 2019 was $39,000 — Issue arose as to determination of parties' incomes for purposes of spousal support — Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on issue of prospective support was relevant issue for consideration — Trial concluded in January 2020 and since then there had been public health directives greatly restricting business operations in British Columbia, including mandated closures of fitness centres and yoga studios — These events were not part of trial record and there was no evidence as to impact, if any, of COVID-19 restrictions on income of either party, but determination of income was issue that would influence parties' future financial positions and it was not appropriate to ignore post-trial events that suggested there might already have been material change in circumstances for one or both parties since conclusion of trial — Amount of $100,000 was fair and reasonable estimate of husband's annual income for support purposes as of trial date, and income was imputed to him in such amount — Commencing February 1, 2020, husband was to pay wife $850 monthly in spousal support — Both parties were given leave to return to court to ensure that any prospective support orders reflected any COVID-19 related impacts on incomes that were of more than temporary nature.
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