In Alberta, spousal support payments primarily hinge upon the length of time the spouses cohabitated, income disparity, children and their ages, and the age of the spouses. Numerous statutes, including the Divorce Act and the Family Law Act, critically assess and address each aspect of the matter to ensure that none of the spouses bears a financial impediment upon marriage dissolution.
Besides the traumatizing thoughts and anguish of a faltering union, the prospect of financial turmoil is fairly terrifying to at least one spouse in every relationship. For this reason, many people contemplate whether they are eligible for spousal support. In this regard, besides the amount to be received, the most crucial question we encounter as family lawyers is about the length of the period for which the payments will continue.
Read Also: FAQs Regarding Spousal Support For Alberta Residents
Although the question appears to be quite simple, its answer is not that straightforward. Honestly speaking, there isn’t a hardcore time limit since every divorce is different. Given the unique complexities of every family, a one-for-all solution will simply prove ineffective. As a result, the court considers several factors listed in the aforementioned acts and then decide upon the period.
But for you to understand how long spousal support payments will last, you need first to attain a basic understanding of the objectives of spousal support and the factors that affect it.
Therefore, this blog post will systematically explore the relevant aspects that form the base of this question and ultimately provide a satisfying answer.
The Objectives Of Spousal Support
When a marriage meets its end, one of the spouses might encounter financial insecurity due to their dependence on the other spouse. For this reason, the federal government has set comprehensive rules and guidelines to protect the financially disadvantaged spouse. But to ensure that people do not take advantage of these rules, the law has set forth certain criteria to determine whether a person is eligible for such support.
According to the Divorce Act, the objectives of a spousal support order are to:
- Acknowledge any advantage or disadvantage one of the spouses may have as a result of the marriage dissolution
- Fairly divide any additional childcare costs (besides child support payments) between spouses
- Mitigate financial tribulations resulting from the marriage dissolution for both spouses
- Afford the dependent spouse’s reasonable time to become financially independent
At this point, it is important to remember that a spousal support order is neither a punishment for the wrongdoer nor a reward for the righteous spouse. It is simply a way to balance out the financial burden for a fair split.
The Factors A Court Considers
The Divorce Act suggests that a judge considers the needs, means, circumstances, and prevalent conditions of both spouses, including:
- The length of time the spouses spent together
- The responsibilities and functions of each spouse during their time together
- Any pre-standing agreement(s) relating to the spousal support of either of the spouses
Accordingly, the Family Law Act goes a few steps further and suggests additional considerations, including:
- If either spouse is required by law to provide for the needs of another person
- Whether the paying spouse shares a house with another person and the latter’s contributions to the household expenses
- Whether the recipient of the support lives with someone else and the latter’s contributions to the household expenses
Evidently, these additional three factors will help a judge determine whether the payment amount should be increased or decreased. Clearly, calculating the spousal support amount and determining the duration of the payments is quite comprehensive and somewhat complex. Although each family’s needs differ, the Department of Justice provides advisory guidelines to maintain a certain level of consistency.
Now that we have established the purpose behind spousal support, it will be easier for you to understand why the payments may continue over a certain period.
How Long Does Spousal Support Last?
The duration of the payments primarily depends upon the scrutiny of the aforementioned objectives and factors:
- If there are no children, the payments will continue for six months, or one year of each year the spouses have stayed together
- If there are children, the payment will continue according to the guideline mentioned hereafter. But if the marriage is too short, the payments may end when the youngest child starts or finishes school
- When the spouses have lived together for more than twenty years or if the years of living together and the age of the recipient add up to 65 or more, you will make the payment indefinitely
You can receive a more accurate estimate if you request a reliable family lawyer to help you calculate the duration of your spousal support. The lawyer will then scrutinize your unique circumstances.
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