When couples decide to live apart, spousal support—once called alimony—is a topic they must consider and resolve. Spousal support is not mandatory in Ontario, but courts will award it in appropriate circumstances.
Whether you seek spousal support, you hope to avoid paying it, or you want informed advice about developing a reasonable alimony agreement, an experienced family law practitioner could help. Kawartha Lakes spousal support lawyer Paul Riley could explain the law and offer guidance tailored to your situation.
Spousal support is not automatic. If the partners do not negotiate a support arrangement, the partner with lower earnings can request the court to award it.
Spousal support could be available if the partners lived together as intimate partners; they need not be married. The length of cohabitation has a strong influence on the amount of alimony awarded. If a couple lived together before marrying, the support amount would reflect all the years they cohabitated, not just the years they were married.
Spousal support is usually temporary. Depending on the circumstances, a judge might award support for six months to one year for every year of cohabitation. However, if the relationship endured for more than 20 years, support could be indefinite. The support obligation also could be indefinite if the marriage lasted at least five years and the length of the marriage plus the receiving spouse’s age is 65 or more.
Determining how much support is appropriate is not clear-cut. When couples cannot reach an agreement, judges look to the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines to determine an appropriate range for both the amount and the duration of support.
The guidelines offer two formulas: one assumes neither spouse is paying child support, and the other factors in a child support obligation. The child’s right to support supersedes a spouse’s right, so a parent receiving child support might receive less spousal support. If the children’s primary custodian is also the higher earner, a parent could receive child support but pay spousal support.
The guidelines are detailed and factor in tax considerations and other factors. Commercial software is available to help a couple calculate their likely spousal support obligation. A seasoned lawyer in Kawartha Lakes could also help you determine the range of spousal support that might apply in your circumstances.
The rules are different for wealthier couples. If you or your spouse earns more than $350,000 annually, the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines s. 11.3 allows a support obligation higher than the guidelines would otherwise indicate.
Courts consider various factors when determining a spouse’s support obligation, and the judge weighs those factors as seem appropriate. When a relationship endured for a reasonable period, and the spouse seeking support gave up a career to raise children, courts often award support payments that allow the receiving spouse to maintain the lifestyle they enjoyed while married.
High-net-worth couples benefit greatly from negotiating spousal support and other relevant issues when they separate. You could use a mediator, a collaborative divorce team, or allow your capable Kawartha Lakes alimony lawyer to negotiate with the other spouse’s lawyer. Settling spousal support before going to court keeps the process private, allows for more flexibility, and is faster and less expensive than litigating the matter.
Splitting from a partner requires myriad financial adjustments. However, courts do not expect a lower earning partner to give up all the benefits of the lifestyle they enjoyed as a couple. When one partner leaves the relationship at a financial disadvantage, the courts often order the higher earning spouse to pay support at least temporarily.
A Kawartha Lakes spousal support lawyer like Paul Riley could advise you about how much alimony might be appropriate in your circumstances. He could use his knowledge and skill to reach an agreement that reflects your goals, whether you seek support or hope to minimize your obligations. Call today.
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