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Digest of the Week | Self-Sufficient

Wife found to not have made reasonable efforts to become economically self-sufficient in Alberta Court of Queen's Bench decision

Thorlakson v. Thorlakson

2016 CarswellAlta 92

Alberta Court of Queen's Bench

Family law --- Support — Spousal support under Divorce Act and provincial statutes — Time-limited award — Spouse to become self-sufficient

Parties began cohabiting in 1989 and married later that year — Wife started working as social worker in 1992 — Husband earned law degree in 1994 and had worked for same law firm since then — Parties had two children — Wife completed photography certificate program and started photography business in 2003 — Parties went through periods of separation in 2009 and 2011 — Wife started pursuing psychology degree in 2011 — Parties separated in January 2013 — Wife expected to complete psychology degree in 2016, and wished to pursue graduate studies to become registered psychologist — Wife currently had minimal income — Husband's annual incomes from 2012 to 2014 were $305,000, $325,000, and $330,000 — Husband's 2015 income was expected to be $365,000 — Wife brought action for spousal support — Action allowed — Husband was required to pay $30,320 for retroactive adjustment to spousal support and $5,750 per month from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2023 — Wife was entitled to spousal support primarily on compensatory basis — Husband's actual incomes were used for retroactive spousal support adjustment — Husband's ongoing spousal support obligation was based on husband earning at least $350,000 annually — Income was imputed to wife in amounts of $44,000 for 2014 and 2015 and $67,000 for 2016 onward — Wife had not made reasonable efforts to become economically self-sufficient — Wife's choice to pursue psychology degree and master's degree just did not make sense, particularly at slow pace to date — Amount awarded was at low end of range in Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines — Wife had opportunities for increasing her income beyond amount imputed to her — Wife should be able to achieve reasonable standard of living by end of 2023.

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