Spousal support (popularly known as alimony) are financial support payments from one spouse to another after a separation or divorce. This support is used to bridge the gap when there is a financial imbalance between the parties involved.
Spousal support can be one of the most stressful and confusing parts about getting a divorce. The answers to questions like “how much”, “who gets it”, and “how long will it last” greatly depends on the circumstances surrounding the relationship. When calculating spousal support, it is best to have an experienced divorce lawyer to make sure your rights and assets are being protected.
Spousal Support: Who Gets It and Who Pays It?
In the eyes of the law, all spousal relationships are financial partnerships. This means that all separated, married or common law spouses may be eligible for spousal support. You can apply for spousal support, whether you are male, female, or are in a heterosexual or same sex relationship.
So, the big question is, will you be giving support or receiving it?
How is Spousal Support Calculated?
In July 2008, new Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines were introduced in Canada. These guidelines, though not technically law under the federal Divorce Law Act, were meant to help standardize spousal support and assist both couples and the court to determine fair spousal support amounts. Today, they are generally used as a starting point for the amount and duration of spousal support.
In order to calculate the amount of support, the spousal support guidelines consider:
- State of the couple’s finances
- The couple’s ages
- The length of time the couple lived together
- The role each spouse played in the relationship
- If there are children involved
The level of child support can change the level of spousal support, as children’s rights are considered to be paramount. Child support is always calculated first and this may impact the amount of spousal support.
As there are so many different factors that the spousal support guidelines use for calculating support levels, it extremely difficult to calculate an amount with a simple calculator like we have for the Child Support Calculator (LINK). This is why it is so important to have family lawyers who know the details of spousal support and divorce law, to make sure that your rights are being protected.
After the spousal support calculations are complete, the Spousal Support Guidelines will give a low, medium, and high range of possible support amounts. Using these ranges, negotiations can begin between spouses if you choose to create your own separation agreement. If you cannot come to an agreement, a judge can use these ranges to order an appropriate level of spousal support.
At What Point Does Spousal Support End?
There is sometimes a misconception that spousal support automatically ends when the recipient gets remarried or becomes more financially stable. This is not the case, as it depends on the details of the original separation agreement or court order. If either of the parties goes through a substantial financial shift, there is the possibility of a “review order”, where the court will re-examine the circumstances of the divorce and determine if spousal support needs to be recalculated. There is no guarantee, however, that this will result in a change.
Unless a time limit was negotiated into the separation agreement, there is not usually a predetermined end point for spousal support, especially if there was a long-term relationship with children. The shorter the relationship, the greater the chances there will be a time limit put on spousal support. An end point for spousal support is something that you may want your family law lawyer to negotiate when writing your separation agreement.
If you are separating from your spouse and you are worried about potential levels of spousal support, Baidwan & Baidwan Lawyers LLP is here to answer all your questions. Baidwan & Baidwan is a full-service law firm that specializes in family, criminal, and real estate law. For a family lawyer who will work tirelessly to guide you through the ins and outs of divorce law, call us at 905-230-8888 for an initial consultation.