The SSAGs - “Advisory” in Nature, but the Court Must Give Reasons for any Departure

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal (“SKCA”) in Senchuk v Senchuk, 2016 SKCA 167 (“Senchuk”), has confirmed that when the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (“SSAGs”) are argued, a Court must provide reasons for departing therefrom.

In Senchuk, the husband appealed an interim decision of the Court of Queen’s Bench amounting to $2600 per month in spousal support to the wife ($2000 per month in expenses for the wife and an additional $600 per month in cash). The SSAGs indicate that at the husband’s guideline income, the appropriate amount of spousal support would be in the range of $1521 – $1969 per month.  Therefore, the interim award exceeded the guidelines by more that $600 per month. Even though the SSAGs were argued at the Chambers application, the Chambers judge made no reference to the SSAGs in her reasons. The SKCA reminds other judges and counsel that the SKCA made it clear in Frank v Linn, 2014 SKCA 87, that “an appeal court may intervene if reasons are not or cannot be given to support the trial judge’s disposition in relation to [the SSAGs]”. In addition, when considering the circumstances, including that the parties had shared parenting and the husband carried most of the debt load, interim spousal support should have been closer to the low end of the range.  The net after tax result of the interim order achieved the untenable result of reducing the husband’s financial resources to less than half of the wife’s.