Toronto Star

May. 11, 03:56 EDT

`Ex' must share windfall four years later

Judge orders divorced man to hike payments

Donovan Vincent
The Toronto Star

Four years ago, Daniel Anthony Marinangeli signed the last of his divorce papers and ended his marriage.

The next day, he cashed in stock options and netted a cool $1 million.

But the overnight windfall should not have been his alone, a judge ruled yesterday.

In a judgment against Marinangeli, the chief financial officer for the Toronto Dominion Bank, Mr. Justice Victor Paisley ordered him to pay around $300,000 - lawyers don't know the exact figure yet because some of the award is taxable - in retroactive child and spousal support, even though the couple finalized their divorce agreement four years ago.

That's money the judge said his ex-wife should have been paid from the time the couple legally divorced in 1997 because Marinangeli's finances jumped substantially after that, though he didn't inform her.

`It's not a good time to be a man with money going through matrimonial proceedings or having been divorced in the past.'
- Lawyer Harold Niman

Paisley's ruling means divorced people are now obligated to inform their former partners of any change in their financial circumstances.

Paisley found that the day after Marinangeli signed the divorce settlement in 1997, he exercised some of his stock options, which netted him $1 million. Marinangeli's lawyer contends he cashed the stock options to help pay for the divorce settlement.

When the couple separated, he was earning $170,000 a year, but his salary last year was about $300,000, plus a $550,000 bonus. He bought a condo and cottage property worth $700,000 registered in his second wife's name.

Paisley said Marinangeli ``was at fault in failing to recognize his obligation'' to tell his ex-wife Jennifer Marinangeli, of a ``material change'' in circumstances that occurred when he exercised his vested stock options in 1997.

``While the minutes of the settlement are silent on this point, that obligation is implicit, given the agreement that spousal and child support may be varied in the event of a material change in circumstances'' the Toronto judge writes in the ruling released yesterday.

Paisley also ordered Marinangeli to increase his monthly spousal support payments to $10,500 from $8,600 and to pay $5,841 a month in child support.

Jennifer Marinangeli's lawyer praised the judgment, while her ex-husband's lawyer attacked it.

``It's not a good time to be a man with money going through matrimonial proceedings or having been divorced in the past,'' said Harold Niman, who represented Daniel Marinangeli.

But Jacqueline Mills, his ex-wife's lawyer, called the judgment ``significant'' because of the duty to inform. She said that before the judgment people would tell their former spouse their financial circumstances improved if they were asked or if a tax return was sought.

``What this judgment says is that if your circumstances change, you can't hide that or wait until the question is asked,'' Mills said yesterday.

Mills said the former couple now live in ``different worlds'' financially. Jennifer Marinangeli is two years in arrears on her taxes, with Revenue Canada hounding her for money.

Her bank line of credit is near its limit. She has borrowed money from her mother.

Her home needs major work, and she needs dental care, according to the judgment.

``She's entirely dependent on her ex-husband,'' Mills said, adding ``she's entitled to a better standard of living.''

In the judgment, Jennifer said she ``no longer has the lifestyle she enjoyed during the marriage.''

But Niman, who said his client is considering an appeal, said the judgment is ``just a further extension of the current judicial climate.''

Niman was referring to another precedent-setting divorce decision last month, in which the Ontario Court of Appeal opened door on the subject of ``final'' divorce settlements.

In that case, the court ordered Eric Miglin, of Toronto to pay his former wife Linda $4,440 per month in spousal support indefinitely, even though she permanently waived her right to such support in 1994.

But Niman says yesterday's judgment goes further in the duty-to-report element.

``That's the part of the judgment that is very troubling,'' Niman said.

Marinangeli testified during the trial that he didn't feel he had a responsibility to keep his ex-wife informed about his financial affairs.

In her suit, Jennifer Marinangeli complained that she stayed at home and raised the couple's daughter, something that her husband insisted on.

They married in 1973 and she later supported him while he studied.

Paisley said he was satisfied that Daniel Marinangeli's post-1997 ``enrichment'' is attributable in part to the contribution made by his ex-wife during the course of their marriage.

Marinangeli had argued against altering his spousal support in part because his ex-wife lived with another man for several years after they parted and that she has failed to contribute to her own support.

But Paisley said that Jennifer's partner at the time - they are no longer together - had limited means, and that because of her lack of recent work experience and limited education she wouldn't be able to achieve financial independence.

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