I recently reviewed Regnier v. Regnier, 2014 ONSC 5480 (CanLII) where the Court made a decision on whether a wife's decision to go back to school during the marriage automatically meant that the husband should be compensated by way of spousal support for suffering financial disadvantages because of her returning to school. 

The couple were married in 1992 and separated in 2011.  During the term of the almost 20-year marriage, both husband and wife earned an excellent income whereby both were earning approximately $100,000 each.  At some point during the marriage, the wife decided to return to school an obtain her Master's degree.

After obtaining her Master's degree. she became a nurse practitioner, and her income had skyrocketed to approximately $172,000, while the husband continued to do well in his own career, which included various promotion opportunities.  The husband asked for the Court to order her to pay him spousal support.  The court declined his request.

The husband's position was that his wife did her schooling primarily at home which required the husband and their children to support her in her education and career enhancement.  The plan was for the whole family to benefit from the wife's career and income advancement, however, that did not happen as the parties subsequently separated.

The Court pointed out that under Canadian law, compensatory-type spousal support is intended "as a means of indemnifying a spouse who suffers economic disadvantage flowing from the marriage and its breakdown."  Clearly, this was not the situation as the husband still had his career and his above-average income.

The Court concluded that "he did not advance any evidence tending to show that he suffered any prejudice to his employment opportunities or aspirations.  His complaint was mostly related to unrealized purchases he had hoped for, such as a sports car to work on."  The Court went on to say that "the disadvantage relates to foregone employment opportunities, promotions, transfers and in some cases an actual departure from the work force in order to facilitate the other spouse's advancement."

The Court dismissed the husband's claim for spousal support.

Written by Marian Grande, Mediator
AUGUST 27, 2020

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