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Divorce: Alimony agony

Having concrete proof of adultery was once the only way to get a divorce in Canada. That meant a detective's photograph of a cheating husband. Or witnesses in a dirty motel room. Then in 1968, a new divorce law gave couples trapped in bad marriages an easy way out. The law started a divorce trend that continues to this day, in a time when it's so simple to break the knot, you can even do it online.

When Andrzej Moge told his ex-wife Zofia that he had been paying alimony long enough, she told him to take it to the courts. Raising the couple's three kids was causing financial hardship, Zofia explains in this CBC Television clip.

Moge v. Moge went all the way to the Supreme Court and Andrzej was ordered to continue his payments of $150 per month. The court also recognized that Zofia suffered a severe financial setback when the couple separated.

This notion sets a new precedent for alimony, which used to be just a temporary provision for women until they found a job. The court's decision today makes alimony more of a payment for lost prospects.
. In 1960, Zofia and Andrzej Moge moved to Canada after getting married in Poland. They separated in 1973 and formally got a divorce in 1980.
. In 1989, Andrzej asked the courts if he could stop paying alimony and child support. That year, Zofia was making $800 a month before taxes, while Andrzej pulled in $2,200.
. Alimony is a set amount of money paid after a divorce from one spouse to another. It is usually paid by the breadwinner.

. Legally separated spouses can also be required to pay alimony.
. In the 1980s, 66 per cent of divorced women were considered poor. Conversely, the number of men paying child support and living in poverty was 11 per cent.
. Although Madame Justice L'Heureux-Dubé (who appears in this television clip) believes in equality of the sexes, she maintained that divorce was causing poverty and therefore "equality with a vengeance."

. Justice L'Heureux-Dubé suggested family law be amended to say "spousal entitlement" rather than "spousal support."
. In 1994, a Vanier Institute of the Family study found that 25 per cent of children from divorced families were living in poverty.
. A 2001 Canadian Social Trends study reported that 71 per cent of kids from divorced families said they had "a very happy childhood."

.The Vanier study also found that the notion women live off alimony payments is a misperception. That year, alimony represented only 14.6 per cent of a divorced woman's total income.
Medium: Television
Program: Prime Time News
Broadcast Date: Dec. 17, 1992
Guest(s): Douglas Johnston, Zofia Moge, Helena Orton
Host: Peter Mansbridge, Pamela Wallin
Reporter: Saša Petricic
Duration: 3:10

Last updated: March 6, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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