What is the test for a spousal support order against a woman who has been ordered to work for 20 years?

British Columbia, Canada

The following excerpt is from Johnson v. Johnson, 1999 CanLII 3653 (BC SC):

The petitioner submits that the law requires the respondent to make some effort and a failure to do so can result in the termination of the spousal support order: Stewart v. Stewart, [1999] B.C.J. No. 1562 (Q.L.) (B.C.S.C.). While there is evidence that the respondent does have some medical problems, the petitioner points to the fact that none of her doctors has said that she is thereby unable to work. The simple fact is that the respondent gave evidence that she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom for the children, even though they no longer lived with her. In these circumstances, the petitioner argues that there has been a sufficient change in circumstances to warrant a variation of the spousal support order. The children reside with the petitioner and there is a duty on the respondent to contribute to their living expenses. The respondent clearly implied to the court in her evidence in September 1996 that she was embarked upon a new career but she did not pursue it; and there is absolutely no evidence that the respondent has made any effort to retrain or find even part time employment.

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