Calling the document signed in 1996 “unconscionable,” an Ontario judge has tossed out a marriage contract that proposed to dramatically lower the amount of spousal support that Christine McCain, ex-wife of food magnate Michael McCain, would be entitled to.
Here’s the murky tale that seems like the stuff Hollywood scriptwriters come up with on a particularly weird day.
In 1996, Michael McCain’s even wealthier and more magnate-ish father, Wallace McCain, demanded that his five children have their spouses sign marriage contracts that would severely limit their access to the family’s vast fortune in the event that any of them divorced.
The reason? Wallace wanted his dough to stay in the McCain clan, and not be portioned off to some ex-spouse.
The consequences to his beloved kids if they didn’t comply? They’d be disowned and disinherited.
Money being money (and daddy being daddy), the five McCain children dutifully had their spouses sign the contract. One of those children was Michael McCain, who had married Christine McCain 14 years earlier.
Fast forward 16 years to 2011, and Christine and Michael separated — as some couples do.
Yet, unlike those couples, Michael pulled out the marriage contract (possibly jumping in the air as he did, thanking his dearly departed pop, and screaming yeeee haaaa!), and figured that he’d be on the hook for only fraction of what his soon-to-be-ex wife would be entitled to under law.
That “fraction” amounted to title to the family home, plus two of the couple’s four cottages.
Christine wasn’t pleased with that, and Michael didn’t care. He had the signed marriage contract.
But what he didn’t have, was the support of an Ontario court judge, who declared last last week that Daddy McCain’s novel approach to keeping wealth within the confines of his family tree was illegal, invalid, and adding a bit of editorial along the way, unconscionable, too.
The judge then turned around and awarded the former Mrs. McCain a whopping $175,000 a month in spousal support.
“As far as I know, it is by far the highest support order that has been made in Canada,” commented Harold Niman, Ms. McCain’s lawyer, in an interview with the Globe and Mail. “It is a staggering amount for most people, but this was a woman who was up against a husband who is very strong-minded, and she stood her ground.”
There’s no word yet on whether Christine McCain yeeee hawed or not.
It’s expected, however, that Michael McCain will appeal, which means that this saga may be far from over.
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