Spousal support or alimony is not a clear cut as child support. The most common misconception people have about spousal support is that they believe it is a right and therefore is required or mandatory. In contrast to child support, where support is the child's right, spousal support is not mandatory. This belief that spousal support is mandatory most commonly comes up when one spouse has stopped working during the marriage to take time to raise children. Although spousal support is not mandatory it is important to consider especially for couples with significant income imbalances related to different levels of education or careers. In such cases spousal support may be granted but is never a guarantee.
Determining Spousal Support
So you my find your self wondering whether or not you should seek spousal support. The following is designed help give you an idea of how spousal support is determined. The law is structured with the end goal of both parties becoming self supporting financially. However, the law also recognizes that this goal may not be achievable in the short term or at all. For example in the short term a spouse may need to go back to school and or requires assistance from their former spouse while rebuilding his or her career. In such a case spousal support may be granted for a period of time, but the decision will also depend on a number of other factors that may include:
- The age health and education of both spouses and how these factors affect their ability to find work
- The current income of each spouse, their current skills and if not working their ability to find work.
- What assets the couple owned during the marriage, such as property, businesses, investments and the potential they have to generate income. For example rental income from a house the couple owned.
- Other sources of income such as inheritances or a lottery win.
- The number of children the couple supports and the age of those children. The children can be children of the current couple or may be children from previous relationships.
- The length of the marriage or common law.
- The standard of living the couple had during the marriage. Such a standard of living may not be possible due to separation and the court understands this.
Although spousal support is not an automatic right you may still be able to seek spousal support even if you are working. If you are underemployed or currently looking for a better job or going back to school and working at the same time you can seek spousal support during this time while you rebuild your career. It's quite often that one spouse needs to do this especially in cases where they might have left the work force in order to take care of the children resulting in discrepancies in income before and after the divorce.
If you are applying for spousal support you will need to show more than just financial need in your claim for support. A Judge will look at many of the factors above before determining if support should be awarded. The factors will be considered in the context of the family law act, which indicates that spousal support should be used to :
- address and balance any economic advantages or disadvantages between partners after their relationship ends.
- support a spouse in rebuilding their career after previously giving up their career to look after children.
- promote both parties to become self sufficient within a reasonable amount of time.
In addition to the factors above both parties need to be honest about the information they bring forward. If it is determined that one spouse has hidden financial records, or assets, or has pressured another spouse to accept an unfair agreement, the agreement and negotiations may be set aside by the court. Likewise the court can set aside any agreements or negotiations made in bad faith so as to attain a fair result.
If your spouse has hidden financial records or assets or has pressured you into signing an unfair agreement come and speak with us. We can help dig up the truth and get you a fair result.