So, the creator of one of my favourite rom-com, Crazy Stupid Love, decided to make a show, and it’s amazing. The show This Is Us is centred around three siblings and their parents. The parents, Jack and Rebecca Pearson, had triplets Kate, Kevin and Kyle. Kyle died shortly after birth, and Jack and Rebecca decided to adopt Randall, a baby who had just been abandoned by his father and had been born on the same day as the triplets. It’s pretty cool because the show actually jumps from present to past to future and back again.
Our couple of the month is Kate and Toby. Kate is one of the triplets and the only girl. Dad’s favourite. Kinda hard life. One brother was super smart, and another was very good-looking and became an actor. She was kind of always the forgotten child. I never really liked Kate, honestly, until the last two seasons of the show. I thought she was annoying, but to be fair, I thought all the Pearson kids were annoying. Kate and Toby had met at a weight loss support group and immediately connected. They got married and had two children, and then COVID happened. Toby lost his job and then became a stay-at-home dad. And then, he got another job and had to move to San Fransisco. This strained their relationship, and the cracks started to show. Eventually, the cracks got too wide, and they realized (well, at least Kate did) that they would be better off getting divorced.
Although Kate and Toby lived in Los Angeles, as we do, we are applying 2022 Ontario law here to see what issues would have popped up during their divorce.
Big THREE (actually, four) issues to be dealt with
There are at least four issues that may have resulted in Pearson v. Damon if it had happened in Ontario.
Decision-Making Responsibility and Parenting Time
The courts in Ontario tend to favour a child-focused and centred approach to decision-making responsibility and parenting time. This was previously known as custody and access, respectively. A decision will need to be made regarding whom the two children of the marriage, Jack and Haley, will live with and who will have decision-making responsibilities. If the matter had proceeded to court, the judge would have decided based on what was best for the children. From what we can tell, they both seem like good parents (ignoring that their joint carelessness once made their blind toddler leave the house, walk to the park, and seriously injure himself). They are both involved heavily in the children’s lives, and at one point, each of them has been the primary caregiver for the children. They would likely end up having equal parenting time and equal decision-making responsibility, seeing as Toby has now moved back to Los Angeles. The fact that Haley is adopted has no bearing whatsoever on Kate and Toby’s decision-making responsibility and parenting time. Her legal parents are Kate and Toby and not her birth mother.
Google states that the average salary for a teacher in Los Angeles is $54,000. Toby was an IT guy who had just gotten a fancy new job in San Francisco. The average salary for that is $154,607. If Haley and Jack live with Kate, then Toby will have to pay child support of $2,132.00 per month. If they lived with Toby, then Kate would have to pay child support of $823 per month. If parenting time is shared, then Toby will have to pay something called a set-off amount which is the difference between what he would pay if the children lived full-time with Kate and what Kate would pay if the children lived full-time with him. In this case, it will be $1,309.00.
Section 7 Expenses
There will also probably be a few section 7 expenses. Section 7 expenses are extraordinary expenses. They usually include expenses that are not included in regular child support. Examples include extracurricular fees, health-related expenses e.t.c.
Kate and Toby’s son Jack is blind and, as such, needs special equipment. Toby even refers to these pieces of equipment in a fight with Kate. Jack also goes to a special school for blind children. We do not get to know Haley, but maybe she might get involved in some extracurriculars as well. Ballet, soccer, maybe even Karate. These expenses may likely be split proportionately to each parent’s income. So, for example, in this case, the proportions will be Kate at 25.89% and Toby at 74.11%.
For example, assuming the section 7 expenses add up to $10,000. Toby will be entitled to pay $7,411, and Kate will be entitled to pay $2,589.
Kate may be entitled to spousal support. She stayed home for a large proportion of the marriage to support her family. While Toby was a stay-at-home dad for a while, Kate put her career on hold for much longer to enable Toby further his career in San Francisco. Spousal support is based on eligibility, quantum, and duration (which, in this case, is six years). The table amount for spousal is also usually calculated for low, mid, and high figures. If found to be eligible, Toby will have to make spousal support payments to Kate, seeing as he earns more.
Even though Kate gets remarried to Phillip, this will not automatically terminate Toby’s spousal support obligation.
We know that the matrimonial home is where Kate lives in Los Angeles, and it is probably the parties’ main asset. Come to think of it, with this new job that Toby has. There is probably a good pension, maybe some stock options.
As with most of the other couples we examined, we do not have enough information to carry out an equalization exercise.
There are a few couples in this is Us with interesting stories so we may visit a few of them in upcoming posts. Also, #justiceforMandyMoore. She was robbed of those Emmys. Every. Single. Time.
If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Lawyers in Pickering, Toronto, Scarborough, and Markham. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.