Seeking Support and Damages Simultaneously

Grace Cleveland
Family Law

In Petrie v. Lindsay, 2019 BCSC 371, the claimant mother and respondent father came before the court to resolve multiple issues including spousal support and damages sought in relation to the claimant’s personal injuries arising from assault and battery (allegedly at the hands of the respondent).

The claimant’s characterization of events painted a dark picture of the relationship, including constant violence, mental and physical abuse, emotional manipulation, and financial control perpetrated against her by the respondent. Over the years, she suffered a broken nose, a broken finger, bruises, and a severe back injury. The claimant testified that she had turned to drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with the abuse. She also suffered from PTSD, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and flashback nightmares as a result of the trauma she experienced.

After hearing conflicting testimony from the respondent, the court considered a variety of factors and ultimately found the claimant to be a more credible and reliable witness.

In addition to upholding an earlier finding that the claimant was entitled to spousal support, the court held that the respondent owed the claimant over $15,000 in unpaid support (accruing from the date that the proceedings were initiated) and over $14,000 in retroactive support (accruing from the date of separation to the date that the proceedings were initiated). The respondent was also ordered to pay over $1400 per month in spousal support indefinitely.

Although damages are not often awarded in a family law context, the possibility remains open in situations where there is spousal abuse or other instances of family violence. The court considered several cases where damages were awarded in the range of $10,000 - $90,000, and in light of the long-term and multi-faceted abuse in the case at bar, ordered the respondent to pay $20,000 in general damages for personal injury to the claimant.

This case demonstrates the ways in which BC courts can condemn and denounce family violence, and aid victims in moving forward from abusive relationships.

This article is intended for information purposes only and should not be taken as the provision of legal advice. Grace C. Cleveland is an articled student with the law firm of Cleveland Doan LLP and can be reached at(604)536-5002 or