A woman in Florida traded her strapless Pucci dresses for prison blues after she was sentenced to eight years for a drunk driving offence that left two persons seriously injured.
Several years earlier this woman had divorced her husband and signed a separation agreement that provided she would receive monthly spousal support, that would terminate if she cohabited with another person for three months or more.
Her ex-husband brought a court application seeking termination of the support on the basis that she was cohabiting with her cellmate. At trial the husband’s case was dismissed, however, in his appeal, two of the three appellate judges agreed that his ex was cohabiting and cancelled the support.
Do I think a Canadian judge would have ruled in the husband’s favour? No, I don’t, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I don’t believe our court would consider that a cellmate fits within the spirit of the agreement, which clearly contemplated a personal relationship, not the random assignment of a bunk-mate. In addition, in Canada, support has two objectives: to ensure that a spouse’s needs are met and to compensate a spouse for sacrifices made during marriage i.e. responsibility for child care and household management, or the termination or reduction of employment outside of the home. The fact that this woman’s needs were met by the federal Department of Corrections only eliminated one of the grounds that would entitle a spouse to spousal support.