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MAINTENANCE AND SUPPORT - Spousal support - Obligation to achieve self-sufficiency

Tuesday, July 27, 2021 @ 5:41 AM  


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Appeal by the husband from a 2020 spousal and child support order made after a review of a 2017 support order. The wife moved to B.C. from Quebec to accommodate the husband’s employment as an RCMP officer. She gave up good employment as a Francophone in Quebec and found it difficult after separation to obtain employment in B.C. due to limits of her English language skills. She was not permitted by the trial order to relocate with their child to Quebec. She did not earn even as much as full‑time minimum wage income in the years since trial. Both the trial judge and chambers judge imputed full‑time minimum wage income to the wife but found that she was entitled to spousal support on a compensatory and non‑compensatory basis. The husband argued the chambers judge should have been much more critical of the wife’s efforts to attain self‑sufficiency.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The appellant did not show that the judge overlooked any evidence in the consideration of the wife’s efforts to find employment or the circumstances she found herself upon the breakdown of the relationship. It was not the role of this Court to look at the same evidence, re‑weigh it, and reach a different conclusion. The goal of encouraging self‑sufficiency was only one of the factors to be weighed in determining the appropriate quantum of support. It could not be said that there was a duty on the part of the wife to attain self‑sufficiency in a set period.

Oddou v. Mpega, [2021] B.C.J. No. 1402, British Columbia Court of Appeal, D.C. Harris, G.J. Fitch and S.A. Griffin JJ.A., June 23, 2021. Digest No. TLD-July262021003