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CASELAW UPDATE: Just how binding are the recommended ranges in the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines?

Posted on February 23, 2018

Are you wondering how closely the courts will follow the recommended ranges for support in the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines?

In Slongo v. Slongo 2017 ONCA 272, the Ontario Court of Appeal held that the motion judge arrived at an incorrect quantum of spousal support because he departed from the range of spousal support produced by the Guidelines.

In Slongo, the husband and wife separated after almost 23 years of marriage. They entered into a separation agreement which provided that the husband would pay spousal support to the wife, subject to variation based on a material change of circumstances. Their separation agreement was premised on the assumption that the husband would continue working until the age of 65.

However, at 53 years of age, Mr. Slongo decided to retire early. He accepted a retirement package from his employer which would provide him with periodic lump sum retirement benefits. Consequently, Ms. Slongo brought a motion to increase her spousal support payments and the Ontario Superior Court held that there had been a material change in circumstances as stipulated in the separation agreement. The court varied the husband’s monthly support payments in accordance with his new financial circumstances. However, the court adjusted the amount to be considerably lower than the recommended range set out in the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines. Ms. Slongo appealed this decision to the Ontario Court of Appeal, which held that the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines, while not binding, should not be departed from.

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