Finding fault in divorce
B.C.' ruling for support fuels victimization
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
It is easy to sympathize with Sherry Leskun, who has suffered the emotional
turmoil of having an adulterous husband, coupled with a back problem and a
number of deaths and illnesses among family members. That sympathy should
not extend to excusing her from finding a job and getting on with her life.
Yet, that's exactly what the British Columbia Court of Appeal has done.
The three-judge court ruled 2-1 that Leskun's ex-husband, Gary, must
continue supporting the Vancouver woman because she is so consumed
emotionally by the cheating, which ended their marriage six years ago, that
she cannot work.
The ruling's legal implications set a dangerous precedent by allowing one
spouse's behaviour to factor into the other spouse's ability to carry on. It
will encourage spouses to play mind games with their exes, and with the
courts, in the hopes of finding an excuse not to get a job. It also allows
them to feed off a victim mindset rather than relinquish their
end-of-marriage bitterness and adopt a healthier attitude of
Exes may now start using a variety of reasons to perpetuate their own
victimization and up the alimony ante. They could, for example, declare
themselves unable to get over their former spouse's alcoholism, workaholism,
shopping compulsions, sexual demands or any of the other behaviours that
cause a rift between husband and wife.
Sherry Leskun is not unemployable. She has 34 years' experience in the
banking industry and, although she has been out of the workforce for six
years, she is no different than a woman who may have taken the same amount
of time off to stay home with her children. She needs only a few courses to
bring her up to speed on the latest skills in her field and make her
desirable as an employee again.
The family court system is weighted heavily in favour of women, especially
in custody cases.
The Leskun decision is just a new twist on the theme. This ex-wife needs to
stop brooding, go back to work and look out for herself emotionally and
financially. That's what equality for women is all about.
© The Calgary Herald 2004