Undeniably, divorce is more than what the term implies. Besides the physical and legal separation of two individuals, it also mandates consideration of many complex financial aspects. From child decision making to the division of assets, the separation of financial matters can be overwhelming and stressful for many couples. Who gets what and in which proportion often results in numerous disputes amongst spouses.
While aspects like assets and liability divisions are discussed frequently on various platforms, information about some financial variables is limited. The latter often confuses couples and makes the divorce process even more cumbersome. One of such least discussed subjects is spousal support. As the most reputed family lawyers in Edmonton, spouses often look upon us to help them understand their rights and responsibilities regarding the matter.
The problem is, unlike child support which is relatively easy to comprehend, spousal support is fairly complicated. It is not as simple as just determining a simple fixed amount that has to be paid every month. In truth, it involves several complex calculations and formulae.
Although the actual calculation and implementations of spousal support guidelines are complex, this blog post aims to address the most basic frequently asked questions regarding spousal support.
What Is Spousal Support?
As the name suggests, spousal support is financial aid provided by one former spouse to the other during divorce or separation to help the other cover their living costs. The spouse with a higher income provides this support to the spouse with a lower income to overcome the disparity between their earnings. However, this is a highly simplified version of the actual matter. According to the Canadian Department of Justice, the court may sometimes conclude that the spouse with a lower income is not entitled to receive this aid.
Thus, income is not the only determinant.
What Is The Difference Between Alimony And Spousal Support?
We have also come across couples who seem to be confused about alimony and spousal support, which complicates matters unnecessarily. An alimony is simply an older version of spousal support. Prior to the introduction of modern marriage laws, a man was often required to pay a certain amount of money known as alimony to a woman for a certain period after divorce.
However, that was when a man used to be the sole breadwinner for the family. Today, men and women stand equally in terms of their careers. Thus, the rules have changed.
Which Act Sets Out The Rules For Spousal Support?
The federal Divorce Act sets out the general rules regarding spousal support. However, there might be minor differences between various provinces and territories. Hence, we recommend that you contact reliable family lawyers and request them to provide assistance regarding spousal support as per the relevant provincial laws.
What Are The Main Considerations Regarding Spousal Support?
As noted earlier, a judge can not simply mandate one spouse to pay a fixed amount to another. Certain considerations must be evaluated:
- Entitlement: Which spouse is eligible to receive the support?
- Amount: How much are they entitled to receive?
- Duration: For how long is one spouse required to support the other?
How Is A Spouse’s Eligibility Determined In Alberta?
Since the rules vary from province to province, let us narrow down the discussion to Alberta. According to the Department of Justice, the court will consider the following factors when determining a spouse’s eligibility for support:
- the sources of income and needs of spouses,
- the duration of the marriage,
- the roles and responsibilities of both spouses during their marriage,
- the impact of those roles and the breakdown of the wedding on both spouses’ current financial circumstances,
- Children and their needs,
- the aim of motivating a spouse who obtains support to become financially independent within a suitable period of time, and
- any orders, agreements, or contracts already concluded regarding spousal support.
In truth, there aren’t any hard-core rules, and the judge scrutinizes each case’s unique circumstances. Generally, the wider the gap between the spouse’s income, the more likely the spouse with a higher income will support the one with a lower income.
How Is Spousal Support Calculated?
This question is not an easy one. It requires numerous technical considerations that aren’t easy to fully explore in a blog post. Book an initial consultation with one of our best family law experts at your convenience to discuss your situation.
Does Child Support Affect Spousal Support?
Yes, and child support often enjoys precedence over spousal support. In fact, if a spouse is paying for child support, the latter is often the most crucial consideration when a court decides on a spousal support claim.
About Peak family Law
With the primary aim of simplifying divorce matters for couples as much as possible, our team of legal experts provides assistance in various matters, including property division, ADR, parenting time and decision making, and child/spousal support. Learn more about Peak family Law and how our seasoned family lawyers can help you.
Contact us now for a smooth and peaceful divorce.