When a couple divorces, the spouse with the higher income sometimes pays money to help support the spouse with the lower income. This is called paying "spousal support".
What It Depends On
The entitlement to spousal support, the amount, and duration of payments depends on a variety of factors, including:
- The length of your relationship
- The income earning potential of each person
- Roles during the relationship
- Health of each person
- Economic impact of the separation on each person
- The property of each party
- Age of each spouse
- Whether children are still at home
If you and your spouse earn a similar income, your relationship lasted less than 5 years, you don’t have any children and you are both healthy, then there would likely be no spousal support owed by either of you.
If you are 55 years old, suffering from poor health, you were the primary caregiver of the children and didn't return to the paid workforce, whereas your spouse earns $100,000 per year, you would have a right to spousal support.
These are obvious examples of when spousal support is owed and when it is not owed. The vast majority of cases lay somewhere in between the two examples described above. Our Newmarket divorce lawyers can advise you as to whether you are entitled to spousal support.
If there is an entitlement, the next question is the amount of spousal support. The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAG) is helpful in determining the range of possible awarded spousal support. The SSAG is a series of complicated formulas that predict the likely outcome of an application to court for spousal support. The SSAG are not legally binding legislation does not include them. They are simply a tool to help predict what a judge might do. In most cases, judges follow the SSAG.
Our offices have programs that can help determine the range of spousal support according to the SSAG. We can help you understand whether there is an entitlement to spousal support, and if so, the amount and duration of spousal support when you meet with one of our lawyers for a consultation.
Ten important facts about Spousal Support:
- Before determining the amount of spousal support, first, determine the amount of child support.
- Spousal support that is paid monthly is tax deductible for the person paying it and the recipient must pay taxes on it as if it was income.
- A lump sum of spousal support can be paid instead of monthly payments.
- Lump sum payments of spousal support are not tax deductible. So, this needs to be taken into consideration when determining the amount. Generally, spousal support is paid somewhere between 1 year for every 2 years of relationship to a maximum of 1 year for every 1 year of relationship. So, depending on your circumstances, if you had a marriage of 10 years you might receive spousal support for between 5 to 10 years.
- If you had a marriage of more than 20 years, the potential for spousal support will always exist.
- If the recipient’s age plus the years of marriage exceed 65, then spousal support may be payable forever.
- Common law partners can seek spousal support, but only if the relationship lasted more than 3 years or you had a child together.
- The recipient of spousal support has an obligation to use their best efforts to become economically self-sufficient as long as it is practical to do so. If they do not, it is possible to allocate an income to them and thus accordingly decrease the amount of spousal support.
- The payor of spousal support cannot quit a job or become voluntarily under-employed to avoid paying spousal support. Spousal support is paid based on the realistic potential to earn income even if you choose to do otherwise.
Spousal support is complicated. Our lawyers can help you negotiate a reasonable settlement using the Collaborative Process.