Making Unemployment “Work” in Family Law Proceedings
In a recent decision out of Ontario, Cammaroto v Cammaroto, 2015 ONSC 3968, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice found that a husband was just “going through the motions” on his job search.
In Cammaroto, the parties were married in 2000 after a 2-year long distance relationship, after which the husband moved from New York to Ontario to reside with the wife. Upon his relocation to Ontario, the husband expected to easily find work in the travel industry. However, the husband was never successful in his job search and spent the entirety of the marriage unemployed. On the other hand, the wife was employed throughout and worked regular, 12-hour shifts as a nurse in a hospital.
After the parties separated, the husband applied for spousal support, claiming that the wife had supported him throughout the marriage and that he was in need of continued support. The Court noted that the husband had been virtually unemployed throughout the marriage and accepted that the husbands “…ongoing unemployment was a very significant cause of the breakdown of the marital relationship.”
Ultimately, the Court held that the husbands’ attempts to find work, which at first glance appeared “impressive”, were actually just the husband “going through the motions, documenting many contacts from ads for jobs that he must have known he could not do or would not accept.”
The Court went on to note:
“Some of the content of Exhibit 29 is clearly an attempt to “pad” his efforts to find employment…There are examples of how he thwarted actual employment opportunities himself or wasted his time on obviously fruitless pursuits. It is hard to know whether he was genuinely interested in working or just kidding himself. He turned looking for a job and the documentation of his efforts into a job itself.”
Despite their findings with respect to the husband’s “lame” job search efforts, the Court ultimately found that the husband was entitled to some spousal support, focusing on the fact that the husband had been out of the workforce for 15 years and had depression, anxiety and other mental health issues that pre-dated the marriage.
In any event, Cammaroto provides guidance on the Courts unwillingness to award spouses who appear to deliberately sabotage their own chances of becoming self-sufficient. In this case, the husband’s prolonged unemployment did not “work” out for him in the end.