Finances: Disclosure From New Partners

Can I reduce my spousal support payments due to my ex’s new partner’s income?

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Your spouse may move in with someone new, and their partner may contribute to the overall costs/expenses of the household.  This might impact the amount of spousal support payable based on that contribution.

In order to assess what impact re-partnering has on spousal support, some financial disclosure from the new partner may be necessary. In this post we will discuss the limits on how much disclosure you can request from your ex’s new partner with reference to a recent court decision dealing specifically with this issue.

A new partner’s contribution does not necessarily lead to an immediate reduction of spousal support payable. The court will need to look at the financial circumstances of both parties, the amount of support being paid, the amount the new partner is contributing, whether support is compensatory or not, the length of the marriage, the age of the recipient, the duration and stability of the new relationship, and standard of living. After considering all the factors, the court will then determine whether spousal support should be varied due to the re-partnering.

Read more: Do I have to pay spousal support?

How much disclosure can I request from my ex-spouse's new partner?

A recent case, Politis v. Politis, 2018 ONSC 323 (CanLII), deals with this very issue. In this case, the payor husband brought a motion seeking extensive disclosure from his ex’s new partner in order to determine whether the financial needs of the recipient spouse were being met. The new partner had already disclosed his income information for the previous 6 years, along with proof of his disability payments. The payor alleged that, due to the sale of his business and consulting agreements, the new partner’s income was incorrectly stated, and that he was misleading the court.

Read more: Wondering if you can change your spousal support payments?

In her decision, Justice Kristjanson ruled that the documents the payor was requesting would violate the privacy of the new partner and was disproportionate to the matters at hand. The new partner had already disclosed his income and contribution to the recipient’s expenses.

The recipient argued that he was entitled to understand the new partner’s full “financial picture” including assets and use of capital to meet living expenses. The court disagreed, stating that the payor spouse is not entitled to extensive and intrusive information and disclosure about a new partner’s assets, net worth, savings and intimate financial affairs. Further, there are fundamental differences between support obligations upon the breakdown of marriage, and those of a new common-law partner, given that the new partner had no legal obligation to support the recipient.

The court also stated that mere relevance is not sufficient to compel disclosure. It must be unfair to proceed without the information. In this case, the information sought was not necessary, disproportionate, and it would not have been unfair to continue without it. As such, the motion was dismissed with costs.

What does this mean for you?

If you are seeking information from your former spouse’s new partner, you should be mindful of the scope of the disclosure you are seeking. It is important to ensure that your request for disclosure is proportionate and relevant to the issues. Overly invasive disclosure requests may be denied and it is possible you might be limited to information solely related to the new partner’s income.