One of the parties may be entitled to spousal support to prevent financial hardship — and this can create lead to a major economic impact for both parties unless it is a reasonable arrangement.
Despite federal guidelines on who is entitled to what, disputes are common with this issue.
A spousal support lawyer from Spectrum Family Lawyers in Edmonton can help you and your partner set proper expectations with support and resolve differences amicably rather than through litigation — even if you are not married.
An application to the courts may be made for temporary support during separation before a divorce is finalized. This award may be the precursor to the final support order from the court when the divorce decree is signed by the judge.
Judges may award both compensatory and non-compensatory support:
Compensatory spousal support if one partner is economically disadvantaged after the relationship breaks up due to their role in the marriage.
Non-compensatory spousal support if one partner requires support to meet basic living needs after the separation or if their living standards decline dramatically.
The amounts and durations will depend on a variety of factors for judges to consider.
The employment prospects of the lower-earning partner
The age and health status of each spouse
The standard of living enjoyed during the relationship
If one of the spouses was the primary earner while the other acted as homemaker or caregiver for the children during the relationship, it is unreasonable and unfair to expect the non-earning partner to support herself or himself entirely after the relationship ends.
This could place a burden on society, so such factors will be considered when the need for support is assessed. A judge can exert considerable discretion when awarding spousal support if a case goes to trial but the federal government has also introduced some guidelines to follow…
What are the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines?
The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines were created to help judges and other decision-makers more consistently arrive at appropriate spousal support ranges in a variety of situations.
They are an initiative from the Department of Justice with the aid of family law professors to create more predictable, consistent outcomes with this matter. Most judges take them into account — as do many lawyers who draft spousal support agreements — and understanding these guidelines can help you set your expectations if you are unsure about the issue of support.
The guidelines do not provide legal advice or inform you whether you are entitled to support, merely indications of the level of support that can be expected for a range of situations.
It is best to discuss your situation with one of our Edmonton divorce lawyers and seek personalized legal advice.
Remember, however, that just because your spouse or partner earns more income than you, it does not necessarily mean that you are entitled to spousal support or “partner support”.
For AIP relationships, the Family Law Act states that the following must be considered when support is awarded (in addition to the factors already outlined above):
Any other outstanding legal support obligations (including child support), and
If either party is living with someone else, how that person contributes to the cost of living, and how it affects the ability to pay or need for support.
How is spousal support calculated in Edmonton?
Preventing financial hardship for either partner when relationships end is a key goal of spousal support awards.
Once the entitlement for support has been established, a reasonable amount, frequency, and duration of support must be calculated. It should not be onerous for the payor or the recipient of support.
The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines help with this, providing tools to work out approximate amounts in different scenarios.
Generally speaking, spousal support is paid in the form of regular monthly payments rather than a lump sum. The duration of this support will vary. The longer the marriage, the longer support must be paid, in most cases.
If you have been married or cohabiting for less than 20 years, spousal support duration will likely be limited to several years based on the financial needs of the recipient.
For marriages or AIP relationships that last more than 20 years, support may last until the recipient dies or remarries (in other words, it may be “permanent” but with conditions attached).
Payors of spousal support must pay it according to the court-approved agreement or court order. There is no escaping it by declaring bankruptcy or fleeing to another province or country.
For tax purposes, the payor spouse can claim a deductible expense while, for the recipient, the support is considered taxable income.