Defending a support claim after remarriage

Q&A By John T. Syrtash, Associate,
Garfin Zeidenberg LLP, a Toronto family law lawyer for the past 38  years

Question: Is it true that remarriage alone, without a domestic contract from your former partner, provides no legal or economic protection to your new spouse and children when you are faced with a support claim from that former partner? For example, someone from your past comes back to haunt you, using the Ontario Family Law Act.


Answer: Yes. The former spouse could, most times, use the Divorce Act to make a support claim, not just the Family Law Act. However, this is not true in all cases. If the marriage was of very short duration, and if your spouse was not dependant on you during the relationship, or if there was no need arising from the marriage, then the former marriage itself does not automatically allow for spousal support.

Otherwise, each case is examined on its merits. Does the former partner have an economy need? What are the former husband’s financial circumstances and current child support responsibilities? What did she wait so long to raise her claim? These are all legitimate questions that must be answered before a court will consider spousal support. It is not automatically granted.

Question: My wife and I are separated and about to obtain a divorce. We have an interim separation agreement. Most recently, my wife’s lawyer asked me to sign a Notice of Withdrawal in which I will withdraw the Answer filed to defend myself in the contested divorce proceeding completely. Do I need to sign this to get the divorce?

Answer: I would have to read the agreement and be convinced that it was fair to you. Then I would have to be further convinced that by agreeing to a divorce, you were not precluded from enforcing any of your rights, especially if you were facing  statutory limitation periods to make a valid claim you may still wish to pursue, such as a property claim. . Assuming these concerns were satisfied, then the procedure your wife’s lawyer is suggesting is very normal and is done all the time once two people have signed a final separation agreement. However, you have written that you signed something called an interim ” separation agreement.  If so, then there may be good reason not to proceed with a divorce or to withdraw your Answer in a contested divorce proceeding until all the issues have been resolved.

John Syrtash is an associate and family law lawyer with the Toronto firm of GARFIN ZEIDENBERG LLP.

Neither GARFIN ZEIDENBERG LLP nor John Syrtash is liable for any consequences arising from anyone’s reliance on this material, presented as general information and not as a legal opinion.

John T. Syrtash,
Yonge-Norton Centre
5255 Yonge Street, Suite 800
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M2N 6P4
Cell:  (416) 886-0359
Fax: (416) 512-9992

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