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B.C. Court of Appeal affirms decision to mandate indefinite spousal support by a retiree to his ex-wife, despite the risk of "double-dipping" in to his pension earnings


April 15, 2024

In Raschpichler v. Raschpichler, the Court of Appeal for British Columbia ruled that a trial judge was justified in ordering a retiree to continue paying spousal support indefinitely, despite the risk of his ex-wife double dipping from his pension payments.

The parties had been married for 25 years before their separation in 2007. In 2016, the Ms. Raschpichler (the respondent) sought an order for spousal support, and the parties agreed to a consent order that required her ex-spouse (the appellant) to pay her $1,500 per month in spousal support and to divide his pension between them. When the appellant retired in 2020 (following termination of his employment), he applied to cancel or reduce his spousal support obligations.

At trial, a judge ruled that the appellant’s retirement did constitute a material change in his circumstances, but ordered him to continue paying spousal support, noting  that the respondent had established a strong case for ongoing spousal support. The judge also ruled that spousal support could be paid from the appellant’s pension payments, even though the pension had previously been divided. The judge found that this approach was justified due to the continuing negative effects the respondent  was suffering as a result of the appellant’s historic underpayment of spousal support.

On appeal, the appellant challenged the trial judge’s ruling that indefinite continuation of the spousal support payments, in the amount originally contemplated by the consent order, was justified. However, the unanimous three-judge panel at the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal, finding no basis to interfere with the trial judge’s findings

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