Vaughan Spousal Support Lawyers
In many relationships, one spouse earns more of the household income. One spouse may be financially dependent on the other, particularly if they had to forgo employment opportunities to support their spouse and raise their children. Spousal support aims to place a couple on a similar financial footing when they go their separate ways.
At GDH Family Law, we understand the technical calculations and the emotional complications involved in determining spousal support. Our compassionate and seasoned team of family and divorce lawyers creates client-focused, creative legal solutions to resolve support-related disputes as quickly and efficiently as possible.
What Is Spousal Support?
Spousal support is the money paid by one spouse to another after the couple separates. It is intended to ensure one spouse does not suffer an unfair amount of financial hardship due to the relationship breakdown.
Spousal support recognizes the disproportionate effect separation can have on a spouse who earned less or lost earning potential during of the relationship for the benefit of the family. The support continues as long as is reasonably required for the recipient spouse to become financially independent and self-sufficient.
Who Is Entitled to Spousal Support?
Claims for spousal support are brought under the federal Divorce Act for married spouses, while spousal support for common law couples falls under Ontario’s Family Law Act.
The person claiming spousal support must demonstrate an entitlement to support. Entitlement to support is determined on a case-by-case basis, and several factors are taken into consideration, including but not limited to the following:
- They had responsibilities during their relationship that prevented them from establishing or growing their own career. For example, they raised the couple’s children or supported their spouse as they built their own career or business. This is known as a compensatory claim.
- Their separation or divorce has left them in need of financial assistance, and the other spouse has the financial means to pay support. This is a non-compensatory claim.
- The couple has a domestic contract, such as a marriage contract that entitles them to spousal support upon separation or divorce. This is called a contractual claim.
How is Spousal Support Calculated?
Spousal support is calculated by considering several factors, including:
- The length of the relationship;
- The role and responsibilities each spouse had during the relationship;
- Whether the spouses have children together, and if so, which spouse is primarily responsible for caring for the children;
- Whether there is a significant difference between the spouses’ incomes;
- The age of each spouse;
- Each spouse’s mental and physical health;
- The recipient spouse’s ability to financially support themselves; and
- The payor spouse’s financial means and ability to pay.
Family lawyers and courts often look to the federal Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines for guidance on what is fair and reasonable when determining the amount and duration of spousal support. The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines provide a range of suggested spousal support based on the above factors. Unlike the Child Support Guidelines, the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines are not law. However, in practice, they are usually followed.
Varying Spousal Support
The amount of spousal support required may need to be reviewed and varied as spouses’ financial and employment situations change over time. A separation agreement or court order may also set a specific date or timeline for reviewing the amount of spousal support to determine whether it remains fair and appropriate in the current circumstances.
Some situations where the amount or duration of spousal support may need to be varied include:
- A change to one or both spouses’ financial or employment status;
- The recipient spouse’s receipt of financial support through cohabitation with a new partner or a re-marriage;
- A change in the family’s parenting arrangements, including parenting time or decision-making responsibilities; or
- Enough time has passed that the recipient spouse should be expected to be financially independent and support themselves.
Personal Solutions for a Personal Issue
Spousal support is a technically complex and emotionally-fraught family law issue. An experienced family lawyer will ensure your support order or agreement fairly represents each spouse’s contributions to the relationship.
At GDH Family Law, we focus on your family’s circumstances and create bespoke spousal support solutions tailored to your needs. Our contemporary approach to family law is backed by extensive experience helping married, and common law couples navigate their support obligations and entitlements.
Contact GDH Family Law in Vaughan for Advice on Spousal Support
GDH Family Law is an innovative boutique law firm dedicated to the practice of family law. Our attentive and responsive divorce lawyers craft creative legal strategies to help resolve clients’ spousal support disputes as efficiently as possible. We get to know your needs and the unique situation of your family and provide proactive, reliable legal advice to ease your concerns.
Our firm is based in Vaughan and represents clients throughout the surrounding areas, including Maple, Concord, Woodbridge, Markham, Kleinburg, Richmond Hill, Nobleton, Toronto, Newmarket, Aurora, Brampton, Caledon, Mississauga, Etobicoke, North York, Thornhill, and King City. For a free initial consultation on your family matter, contact us at 416-535-6944 or reach out online.