VANCOUVER — A man has lost his bid to use Vancouver’s rising real estate values to his advantage in a divorce case.
When Darren Stafford Lamont, 55, and Arlene Mae Johnson, 52, were divorced in 2008 after more than 20 years of marriage, she got their modest east Vancouver house.
The 1,877-square-foot matrimonial home had an appraised value of $700,000 at the time of the divorce, but by last September that had risen to $1.18 million.
Lamont, who has since the divorce moved to Sweden and remarried, argued in court that the increased value was a material change in circumstance, which should allow him to have spousal support to his ex-wife either reduced or terminated.
But in dismissing his application, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Frits Verhoeven noted that Lamont made similar arguments in court in 2011, to no avail.
“More importantly, the increase in value of the house does not materially change the conditions, means, needs or other circumstances of either spouse,” said the judge in his ruling.
“The increase in value of the house does not change the present-day financial circumstances of the wife in the slightest. No argument is made that she could or should sell it. It is her residence and that of the two children of the parties.”
The judge added that the home was the same home the couple bought together in 2004 and the value was in the land, not the house.
“In submissions, the husband argues that the wife could borrow against the equity in the house. How that would improve her financial circumstances is unexplained. She would then have to make even larger mortgage payments.”
Johnson’s retirement position was no better than Lamont’s position, and whether the home continues to increase in value and whether she could be in a position to sell it at the time of her retirement was “entirely speculative,” said the judge.
“The husband’s financial position 10 years from now is also not known at this time. The value of his interest in the home in Sweden 10 or more years from now is unknown. None of this affects the circumstances including the needs of the husband or the wife today.”
While Lamont lost out on his spousal support arguments, the judge ruled in his favour when he dismissed Johnson’s application in connection with a child-support issue.