Slater v. Slater, 2010 ONSC 450, [2010] W.D.F.L. 2178, [2010] W.D.F.L. 2087

The following case involves a husband’s attempt to vary, terminate or reduce his spousal support obligation as a result of his former wife’s cohabitation with another man and subsequent remarriage.

Mr. and Ms. Slater were married in 1970, separated in 1993 and officially divorced in 1999. The same year that the divorce was granted Ms. Slater began cohabiting with Mr. Nathanson, whom she later married. Mr. and Ms. Slater decided to resolve all financial issues stemming from their marriage breakdown via arbitration and incorporated the decisions into an Arbitration Award. One such decision regarded spousal support where Mr. Slater agreed to pay a fixed amount of $10,000.00 a month that could only be varied by reason of a catastrophic and unforeseen change of circumstances of either party.

Pursuant to this provision Mr. Slater brought a motion to vary the amount payable, including Mr. Nathanson as a party on the basis that the cohabitation between him and Ms. Slater constituted a change in circumstances. Mr. Slater further requested an order for contribution or indemnity by Mr. Nathanson claiming that since he and Ms. Slater qualify as spouses under the Family Law Act he also has an obligation to support her.

Mr. Nathanson, on the other hand, brought a motion to be removed as a party or a summary judgment dismissing all claims against him.

Justice Czutrin of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice dismissed all claims against Mr. Nathanson and stated that despite the living arrangements between Mr. Nathanson and Ms. Slater, and the potential financial benefit she may accrue from said arrangement, Mr. Slater had no viable claim against him.

When the agreement was entered into between the two former spouses Ms. Slater and Mr. Nathanson were already living together and Mr. Slater was well aware of their relationship and the possibility that they would marry. Moreover, Ms. Slater and Mr. Nathanson had entered into a cohabitation agreement stating that she would not seek support from him and this arrangement was known by all three individuals when Mr. and Ms. Slater settled. Therefore, he did not satisfy the court that the living arrangement constituted a “catastrophic, foreseen or unforeseen, change in circumstances” as contemplated by the Arbitration Award.

Justice Czutrin also took the opportunity to discuss the potential dangers that would result if, to terminate a spousal support obligation, it would become commonplace to add new spouses as parties. He stated that:

“family litigation will be more adversarial and more costly; it will incur greater delays; and, it will potentially interfere with, and potentially jeopardize, intact relationships. It is one thing to seek disclosure from new partners and investigate the financial relationship between new partners and spouses, it is far different and significant to then seek the relief that is sought here, that is, to transfer all or part of a support obligation from a former spouse to a new spouse by a court declaring that the new spouse has all of part of the obligation.”

Andrew Feldstein

The Feldstein Family Law Group (FFLG) is one the largest family law firms that practices Family Law exclusively in Greater Toronto, with ten lawyers and counting. The boutique law firm has won the Top Choice Award for Family Law™ in Toronto for the past eleven years (2007 to 2017 inclusive).

Managing Partner Andrew Feldstein has been practicing family law for more than 20 years and frequently comments on Family Law issues through the media. The Feldstein Family Law Group offers vast written, video, and media resources on its website to those who find that they need to end their relationship.

This Post Has One Comment
  1. This decision affirms that people need to be aware of the agreements they sign. When parties enter into agreements, it is important to explain to them the repercussions of same and to have them understand the terms of the agreement. Mr. Slater should honor the agreement made between the parties. The facts indicate that Mr. Slater was aware of Ms. Slater’s cohabitation agreement that was in place between her and her new partner which reiterated that Ms. Slater would not be seeking support from her new partner.

    People should be able to rely on the finality of their matter. I agree with Justice Czutrin’s decision in this case.

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