One of the challenges of a separation is dealing with the finances for both parties going forward. Spousal support can help a spouse become financially self-sufficient, can help a spouse rehabilitate their ability to financially provide for themselves, and can prevent a spouse from suffering from financial hardship as a result of the separation.
Spousal support is available to married spouses, common law spouses, and partners living together with a child. The amount of support and how long support is required varies. Generally, the longer the relationship and the higher the difference in annual incomes, the larger and longer the support.
The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAG) allow spouses to calculate the range of possible support obligations. The court is not obligated to follow the SSAG and may deviate from the suggested range to reflect the unique circumstances of individual relationships; however, this does not typically occur.
How Spousal Support is Calculated Without Children
The SSAG sets out a range for the amount and duration of support if there are no children in the marriage.
Typically, the amount of spousal support is between 1.5% – 2% of the difference of annual net income for each year the spouses have been married or cohabiting, with a limit of 50%.
How long spouse support lasts is between six months to a year for each year of marriage or co-habitation. However, if marriage or cohabitation lasts more than 20 years or if the recipient spouse’s age plus the year of marriage is higher than 65, spousal support is paid indefinitely.
How Spousal Support is Calculated With Children
If there are dependent children in the marriage, determination for spousal support is more complex. Not only is there additional financial consideration, such as child support, but the purpose of support to rehabilitate the spouse’s ability to provide for themselves might be impacted due to the responsibilities of being a parent.
Typically, the amount of support is determined by combining both spouses’ individual net disposable income to calculate a payment that leaves the recipient spouse with 40% – 46% of their combined net disposable income.
How long the support lasts varies based on the age of the dependent children and the length of the marriage.
Claims for spousal support may have a time limit. For example, common law spouses in British Columbia have a two-year period after they separate to file a claim.
Every situation and relationship is unique. The availability, the amount, and the duration of support depends on the circumstances of the relationship. If you believe you are entitled to support or need to learn more, schedule a consultation with one of our family law lawyers today.