Lilah and Abdul were married for 7 years. Their assets upon separation were relatively simple – they owned a home together, had several joint accounts, Lilah had a pension she had contributed to prior to marriage as well as during marriage and they each owned a vehicle. With the exception of their mortgage the parties had no debts. Lilah worked for a bank and was given the opportunity to relocate to Vancouver. Her income was $150,000. Since she had family in Vancouver, she jumped at the opportunity and accepted the position. Lilah and the children had traveled to Vancouver every summer for the previous 5 years for a month to spend time with their extended family there. Abdul came to visit for a few weekends of the month while they were there. The parties had two children who were 7 and 11 years old at separation. Lilah proposed to take the children with her to Vancouver and suggested Abdul could see them on holidays as well as two weekends per month. Abdul worked as a commercial litigation lawyer and strongly opposed the move. He did not feel it was reasonable for the children to move to the other side of the country simply for Lilah’s new job. His income was approximately $600,000 at separation.
In addition to the usual issues of property division, child and spousal support, the parties had to deal with the mobility issue of Lilah’s proposed relocation with the children to Vancouver.
Abdul could afford legal assistance, but decided to try to do most of the work himself while consulting with a family lawyer. In the court process, the parties agreed to appoint the Office of the Children’s Lawyer (the “OCL”) to provide recommendations about custody and access. The OCL met with the parties and the children and then scheduled a disclosure meeting where it was recommended that Lilah and the children should be able to relocate and that Abdul should have generous access on holidays. The children were excited about the move and wanted to be with their mother primarily. In the face of the OCL recommendations, at the parties’ Settlement Conference and with the assistance of the Settlement Conference Judge, Abdul agreed to the move on terms. He negotiated a transfer with his law firm and was also able to relocate to Vancouver as well. The parties agreed that the children would reside with Lilah but have generous access to Abdul approximately 40% of the time. They also agreed on a division of property such that Lilah retained slightly more of the assets ($280,000). She received half the proceeds of the home, kept her pension and divided any joint accounts. Abdul kept his assets and half the proceeds from the home which left him with approximately $220,000. Since Abdul’s income would drop due to the move, child and spousal support were reduced. Pursuant to Abdul’s income of $400,000 and Lilah’s income of $150,000, and the parties’ shared parenting schedule, Abdul agreed to pay $3,000 in child support per month as well as $3,000 in spousal support (with the spousal support being tax deductible). The parties agreed spousal support would be fixed and terminate after 6 years. Lilah’s lawyer drafted the separation agreement and Abdul consulted with his family lawyer regarding revisions to the agreement.