Helpful information about spousal support orders

People in British Columbia who are in the process of a divorce may have questions and concerns about the issue of spousal support. Although not every divorce settlement includes an order for spousal support, many spouses may be interested to learn whether they are likely to end up paying or receiving spousal support at the end of their marriage.

The rules for spousal support are laid out in the federal Divorce Act, and the rules affect all divorces in Canada. According to the Divorce Act, spousal support is more likely to be a factor in a divorce where one spouse has a much higher income than the other spouse. However, if the lower earning spouse has a significant amount of assets, they may not be entitled to receive spousal support. A court may also decide that there is no need for a spousal support order if the income disparity between spouses was not caused by the marriage.

Because Canada has no-fault divorce laws, the factors that contributed to the breakup of a marriage will play no role in whether or not spousal support is ordered. Some of the things that a judge may consider before making a ruling about spousal support are the earning potential and financial needs of each spouse, the length of the marriage and each spouse’s role in the marriage.

A person who is going through a divorce in which spousal support is an issue might want to talk to a lawyer. Because a decision about spousal support can often be subjective, a spouse may benefit from legal representation at any court hearings. Before going in front of a judge, a lawyer may be able to help a spouse gather sufficient documentation to support their position about matters of spousal support.

Source: Department of Justice, “About spousal support“, December 09, 2014

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