When facing the end of their marriage, many people are left feeling afraid about how they will support themselves and their children. Spousal support can be a complicated issue, In many marriages, one spouse devotes their life to the marriage and to the family – sacrificing their career and other opportunities. The other spouse is afforded the opportunity to develop their career as they support the family financially. When the marriage dissolves, the spouse that stayed at home or worked less feels at a disadvantage and worries about how to provide, as their earning capacity rarely matches that of the working spouse. The thought of losing the lifestyle and standard of living you enjoyed for so many years can be devastating and leave you feeling hopeless.
On the other hand, the higher earning spouse deserves a fair resolution as well. His or her efforts in their employment or business and career advances need to be properly recognized and protected. Dealing with issues like the entitlement to or the value of post-separation income, bonuses, pensions, stock options/share income, benefits packages, professional designations or other business assets and can be very difficult to address in these types of circumstances.
Although the law is complicated, it does provide for an equitable solution in these situations: where one spouse is a the sole breadwinner for the family or even where both spouses work, but one earns significantly higher income. Part of the remedy in these situations is called spousal support.
Spousal support is a financial support paid to a former spouse under an agreement or court order, to help with living expenses. If you were legally married, you can apply for/may be responsible for, spousal support. If you were not married, entitlement to spousal support become less clear; however in many cases when you lived together in a marriage-like relationship for some period of time there will be entitlement to spousal support. Additionally, if you have a child together, entitlement to spousal support will also be affected.
In most cases, particularly if your marriage is longer term, after separation one spouse will often be required to support the other by way of spousal support. This is usually in the form of monthly payments. However, it is not uncommon for spousal support payments to be paid in a one-time lump sum as well. The quantum and duration of payment is often determined on a case-by-case basis.
Further, while one spouse may have a financial obligation to the other for spousal support, the law recognizes that the recipient spouse has an obligation to improve their position and to try to achieve self-sufficiency. In some cases, a spouse may be awarded on-going spousal support indefinitely. In other cases, payments of spousal support may be time-limited or reduced after a period of time. A family lawyer is in the best position to advise your on your situation, specifically the risks you face and your chance of success.
This can be a highly litigious area of family law and requires experienced council to navigate the waters of the complex legislation and case law. Our team has many years of experience in negotiating and can ensure that no matter which side you are on, you will obtain the best possible result.
For guidance in determining the appropriate amount of spousal support, spousal support is calculated using the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines, although those guidelines are not binding.
If you have questions or concerns regarding spousal support issues, call our team today to book a consultation at 905-847-0888.