Spousal support can be one of the most contentious issues in a separation. Who is entitled to spousal support, in what quantum and for how long, are issues many spouses find difficult to grasp and understand upon a breakdown of the relationship.
Is my Spouse Entitled to Spousal Support?
Whether a spouse is entitled to spousal support is a complex legal issue. Entitlement is not automatic despite the spousal support guidelines. A spouse must demonstrate on a balance of probabilities that he or she is entitled to receive spousal support from the other spouse. Once entitlement is established, only then do you look at the quantum, meaning the amount to be paid, and the duration, meaning how long it should be paid. With all of these aspects to consider, many separating spouses find the issue of spousal support confusing and challenging.
Entitlement can either arise from the circumstances of and roles adopted during a marriage or from a common-law relationship. The determination of entitlement to spousal support is grounded in the circumstances of the relationship and its breakdown, and is therefore fact-specific. No two cases are exactly the same. It is for this reason that obtaining advice from a lawyer to assess whether you or your spouse are entitled is so important. Here at Holam Law PC, we have the experience and expertise to guide you through this analysis and to help resolve issues of spousal support.
How is Spousal Support Calculated?
In Ontario, once entitlement is established, the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAG) become a useful tool to assess the entitlement, duration and quantum of spousal support. The SSAG generally produce calculations, or ranges, of spousal support having regard to the individual factors of the relationship and its breakdown. It will also produce a range in relation to the duration it is to be paid. However, while the SSAG does tend to attempt to allow some predictability generally, it also contains many exclusions and exceptions, which makes estimating an amount difficult, and fact-specific. Because the SSAG are simply guidelines, it is not mandatory for the courts in Ontario to follow the spousal support ranges recommended by the SSAG. However, unless certain exceptions apply, generally the Courts do not waiver considerably from the recommendations of the SSAG. That being said, what factors are being taken into consideration by the SSAG are mostly driven by the individual circumstances of your relationship, for example, the length of cohabitation, the ages of the parties at separation, whether child support is payable, income of the parties, retirement and other various factors. That is why the quantum amd duration of spousal support awarded to a spouse can vary greatly from case to case. Often, clients will compare their own case to those of their friends or acquaintances. This is a fallacy and should be avoided. No two cases are exactly the same.
It is also for these reasons that it is important to consult with a family law lawyer when you believe spousal support may be an issue in your separation.
Financial Disclosure of Income is Essential
Income for child and spousal support purposes does not necessarily equate to the income you report to the Canada Revenue Agency on an annual basis. Income for the determination of spousal support can be much more complex and challenging if you or your spouse own a business, earn dividend and/or interest and investment income, or have capital gains, or are the beneficiary of a trust. Having the assistance of a lawyer to guide you through the determination of your income and that of your spouse is crucial for spousal support. It is therefore important for both spouses to provide full financial disclosure of their respective incomes, which is in fact mandated by family law and legislation, when determining if , how much and for how long spousal support is awarded or paid. Hence, any failure to fully disclose income, finances, and income producing assets, can lead to some serious legal consequences, including but not limited to loss of credibility, inaccurate awards of spousal support and additional legal costs.
The legal team at Holam Law PC is adept at identifying and assessing a variety of sources of income and financial disclosure to advocate on your behalf and to accurately provide you with the legal advice and knowledge you need to resolve issues of spousal support. If necessary, we have the network to recommend and engage an expert on complex issues of income and income valuation.
Schedule a Consultation
At Holam Law PC, we have a combined 17 years of experience navigating the often confusing and frustrating maze of spousal support issues, and have helped our clients achieve satisfactory resolution of these issues through alternative dispute resolution and by way of litigation. Our team, through its personal and individual approach, will guide you every step of the way so that you are fully informed of your rights and obligations at all times. The first step in resolving your spousal support issue is to contact us for a consultation, during which we can provide insight into your matter, set objectives and discuss the processes by which the issue can be resolved, such as alternative dispute resolution. Call 365-608-6161 to book an appointment today.