In a recent decision, the Court of Appeal of Alberta (ABCA) upheld a chambers judge’s ruling to grant interim spousal support despite incomplete income information in a case involving a 27-year relationship. Post-separation, the wife received a monthly stipend from workers’ compensation, while the husband provided $1500 in support and covered her car and cell phone payments. The husband’s exact income from a successful business was disputed and yet to be determined.
The chambers judge, understanding the ‘morning chambers’ as a less-than-elegant stage for family law disputes, recognized the necessity of what he termed “rough justice” – acknowledging the imperfections of interim decisions that aim to offer temporary remedies in the absence of a complete financial picture. Despite time constraints and incomplete financial disclosure, the judge made an “interim without prejudice and pre-disclosure order” for spousal support, demonstrating a keen awareness of the evolving nature of the case. The decision also deftly ‘reserved’ the question of retroactive support, recognizing that the legal voyage had just set sail.
The ABCA, in its decision, highlighted the importance of not wasting time and money on appealing interim orders. It emphasized the need to focus on achieving an equitable settlement or obtaining a final determination at trial. The court stated that it would intervene only in the presence of a material error or serious misapprehension of evidence, not merely because it might have made a different decision.
While acknowledging the incomplete and contested evidence, the ABCA found sufficient grounds for the chambers judge’s order, emphasizing the entitlement to deference. The appellant was granted the liberty to revisit spousal support as disclosure and questioning progressed. The court echoed the sentiment that the solution in such cases is to complete disclosure promptly and set the matter for trial rather than launching appeals from interlocutory orders.
The link for complete judgment is as follows: