Bachman-Turner Overdrive guitarist Randy Bachman and his estranged wife have been sent back to the negotiating table- highlighting the pitfalls of partial settlement in divorce cases.

In his October 24, 2014 ruling, B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Hickson stated, “ It is not for the Court to fill in essential terms in an otherwise incomplete agreement.” This ruling effectively renders the agreement void.

Bachman claimed that the agreement with his estranged wife, Denise Bachman (Denise Beck) settled spousal support. Ms. Beck asserted that the parties were still negotiating and that no agreement was reached.

The Chief Justice concluded, “I find that not all of the issues between the parties are addressed in the agreement that the Respondent seeks to enforce, and I therefore dismiss his application.”

Both parties are musicians who married in 1982, and separated in 2011. After separation, both parties retained highly qualified legal counsel to negotiate a settlement. Under the disputed agreement, Ms. Beck was to receive $32,000 per month based on a 27.5% share of Bachman’s BTO royalties.

A key issue was retroactive support for the period between the parties’ separation, and security for future spousal support payments. Mr. Bachman had a number of companies and entities through which his income flowed. Ms. Beck argued that she required security for spousal support, in the event that corporate structures were changed and the royalties of these companies were diverted elsewhere.

The court did not rule on the issue of retroactive support, but did order Mr. Bachman to pay Ms. Beck interim spousal support in the amount of $32,500 per month commencing July 1, 2014.

The security issue was not resolved, but the court hoped that the parties would reach agreement without recourse to trial. The issue was complicated by some confusion of assets being held not in the parties’ names, but in corporate names.

Within the now void agreement, the parties had agreed to use a Family Law Arbitrator to settle future disputes. While the agreement is unenforceable, it will likely form the basis of a final agreement with the benefit of further negotiations.

Legal experts do not expect this matter to be fought out in the courtroom.


Michael Butterfield

Collaborative Lawyer & Mediator


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