The dynamics of every divorce that takes place in British Columbia are unique, and although every lawfully married spouse is eligible for spousal support under the Federal Divorce Act, only the court can decide which spouse will receive such support and the amount to which he or she will be entitled. In many cases, the spouse whose income is significantly less than that of the other spouse receives spousal support; however, this is not always the case. Support for common law spouses is determined by the family law act of the province.
Spousal support will only be determined by the court when a divorcing couple cannot come to their own agreement about it. The object of the court will be to order compensation to the lower-earning spouse — often the one who sacrificed earning opportunities to care for the children of the parties and the household. Typically, the support will be ordered if one party is needy and the other party has the means to provide financial assistance, with the understanding that the lower-earning party will attempt to become self-sufficient.
The court uses a mathematical formula to determine the amount of support, but it will consider any spousal support agreements reached between the spouses, along with the financial needs and means of each spouse. Furthermore, the length of time the marriage lasted and each spouse’s role will be considered. Also, the impact the divorce will have on the financial positions of both spouses, and on the care of the children is also a factor.
The best interests of the children will always be the primary concern of the court, and when both child and spousal support is sought, the court will prioritise child support. Seeking support can be a complicated process, and many divorcing spouses in British Columbia choose to request the services of an experienced divorce lawyer. Experienced legal counsel can provide support and guidance every step of the way.
Source: FindLaw Canada, “Spousal support“, Miriam Yosowich, Accessed on May 31, 2017