After years of shared finances and joint accounts, the reality of a single-income household can be an unpleasant adjustment. When a life is built on two incomes, daily bills and maintenance can be out of reach for one party alone and this is where spousal support becomes more important than ever. The dissolution of a marriage or long-standing relationship should not come at the detriment of one or both parties.
Making a determination around spousal support can quickly become an emotionally charged struggle. Simply deciding whether or not one partner is entitled to spousal support is not the end of this process. An order or agreement focuses not only on whether or not support should be paid but the amount and length of time that payments should be made.
There is no single thing that decides the terms of paying support, but depends on a number of factors. To help Canadians better understand these factors, the federal government created the Spousal Support Advisory Guideline. This guide is published regularly and is designed to start a conversation between parties and is meant to act as suggestions only.
For the most part, spousal support is seen as a temporary measure, paid by one spouse to another until the lower-earning spouse is able to get back on their feet. It is not uncommon for separating couples to by-pass spousal support completely, particularly if the marriage has not been lengthy or both spouses are self-sufficient.
If you are experiencing family difficulties or have suffered from a personal injury, we’re here to help.
A Balancing Act
Family law experts use federally published guidelines as a starting point for calculating spousal support and then onto other considerations that might help to determine a reasonable amount within the suggested range. No two marriages are the same. When looking at the amounts to be paid by one spouse, some of the contributing factors for consideration are:
- Guidelines set forth by The Family Law Act and Divorce Act
- The ages of both spouses
- The earning power and earning potential of each spouse
- Division of property (this is particularly relevant if one spouse has retained the marital home or other significant assets)
- The History of the Marriage: factors such as the financial contributions of one spouse to another for the purpose of schooling; or, the foregoing of a career to further that of their spouse or to raise children.
- Ill health of either spouse
- Whether or not there is a separation agreement or other written agreement in place
One of the most common questions asked regarding spousal support is whether or not spousal support payments apply to common law couples. If a couple have lived together for 2 years or longer, both parties have all the same rights as a married couple. Common law spouses should plan to protect themselves and maintain the same rights as any married couple would. Spousal support can be paid as a lump sum, in regularly scheduled monthly payments or as a combination of both. An order for spousal support is legally binding and must be paid regardless if a party wants to or not.
The experts at Zukerman Law provide expert legal advice and can also help to negotiate a fair support settlement and even help to mediate an emotionally trying time. If one spouse is being seen as unfair or unreasonable, and will not follow mediation practices, it is important to have proper representation in a court setting.