Spousal support is money paid from one spouse to another upon the breakdown of a marriage. Unlike child support, spousal support is much more discretionary and takes into account many factors such of length of marriage, roles of parties within the family and earning potential. In order to make or respond to spousal support claims you will need to provide disclosure with respect you your income.
Determining Spousal Support Claims
Parties can be entitled to support on both a compensatory and non-compensatory basis. Compensatory spousal support is generally claimed when there was an economic disadvantage during the marriage. This could have been because one party stayed home to care for the children or one party had a language barrier due to relocation and found it difficult to secure a job in their field. Non-compensatory spousal support is claimed when there is a decline in standard of living due to the breakdown of the marriage. For example, if the parties are living in a free standing house in a nice neighbourhood, taking annual vacations and driving separate cars during the marriage and after the divorce, one party continues to reside in the Family Home and take vacations while the other party lives in a one bedroom condo without a vehicle, this may result in a Justice awarding support on a non-compensatory basis.
Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines
The current Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines were released by the Department of Justice Canada to assistant parties in determining the length of time and amount of support to be paid. The Guidelines do not explicitly deal with entitlement to support. This means there is a large grey area when it comes to support. A good family law lawyer will be well versed in dealing with spousal support and can assist you in making a compelling claim for spousal support by relying on current case law.
Waiving Spousal Support
If it is agreed that neither party is entitled to spousal support than both parties can agree to waive the support or not claim it at all. It is also possible to reserve spousal support meaning the parties, or one party, acknowledge(s) that they are not in need of spousal support currently, but a change in circumstance could mean they are entitled in the future. A change in circumstance may be due to loss of employment, a disability or health issue, increase or decrease in child support or a significant increase of income of either party.
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