Whitby Spousal Support Lawyers

Spousal support (or alimony) is usually a regular monthly payment made by one spouse to the other to help the claiming spouse maintain the same standard of living that he or she was accustomed to during the marriage. At M. G. Michaels & Associates, Whitby spousal support lawyers, we are experts at negotiating fair spousal support amounts for our clients. Our lawyers will gather the relevant information, and advise you of your entitlement to support, or obligation to pay, as well as approximations of the amount, and the duration the support will last.

Our Whitby family lawyers start with these factors, most commonly used in calculating spousal support:

  1. Income of both spouses;
  2. How long you were married; and,
  3. Whether you have children, as well as the age and health of both spouses and each child.

What is Spousal Support?

Spousal support is money paid from one spouse to another after separation. Our spousal support lawyers at M. G. Michaels & Associates, Whitby family lawyers, can guide you through spousal support every step of the way in Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Oshawa, Bowmanville, and Courtice in Durham Region.

While spousal support is most commonly paid on a monthly basis, but it can also be paid in one lump sum, as a ‘buy out’, so-to-speak. Unlike child support, spousal support payable on a monthly basis is taxable in the hands of the recipient, and tax deductible to the payor. A lump sum payment of spousal support, however, does not receive that tax treatment. Catching up arrears of monthly support in a lump sum payment is treated as if the payments were made as required, namely monthly.

When is Spousal Support Payable?

Spousal support may be payable by one spouse to another when a couple is married; has lived together in a ‘marriage-like’ relationship for at least three years; or, when a couple has a child together and lives together, regardless of how long they have lived together. Our spousal support lawyers can advise you in your particular situation.

When considering whether you or your spouse is entitled to spousal support, Section 15.2(6) of the Divorce Act outlines four objectives to consider:

  • To recognize any economic advantages or disadvantages to the spouse arising from the relationship between the spouses or the breakdown of that relationship;
  • To apportion between the spouses any financial consequences arising from the care of their child, beyond the duty to provide support for the child;
  • To relieve any economic hardship of the spouses arising from the breakdown of the relationship between the spouses, and;
  • As far as practicable, to promote the economic self-sufficiency of each spouse within a reasonable period of time.

While a common law spouse cannot claim spousal support under the Divorce Act (because there was no marriage), a judge will apply the same types of factors when considering a support claim under section 33(9) of the Family Law Act.

Generally speaking, there are three types of entitlement to spousal support:

  1. Compensatory;
  2. Non-Compensatory (needs-based); and,
  3. Contractual.

Some examples of instances where entitlement to spousal support may be found are listed below:

  • Your spouse’s career was given higher priority over the course of the relationship than your own while you focused more on running the household and family affairs (compensatory);
  • You left the paid workforce to focus your time more on meeting the needs of the household and/or family (compensatory);
  • You are dependent on your spouse financially to meet your financial needs and/or have become accustomed to a lifestyle provided by your spouse which you are unable to achieve financially on your own (non-compensatory);
  • You sacrificed in some way to support your spouse in his or her studies or career training (compensatory); and,
  • Your spouse agreed in a Cohabitation Agreement, Marriage Agreement or Pre-nuptial Agreement to pay you spousal support in the event of separation (contractual)

Determining entitlement to spousal support can be difficult because it is not simply a disparity in your incomes – our spousal support lawyers can assist.

How Much Spousal Support Will I Pay? (Or Receive?)

In Ontario, we typically look to the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (“SSAG”) to determine how much the spousal support payments should be and how long the payments should go continue. The SSAG are not law (like the Child Support Guidelines), but they do provide a guideline and some direction for the Courts in order to determine how much spousal support is appropriate in a given circumstance. The SSAG are utilized across the country, and as noted, are only advisory in nature.

Basically, the SSAG are an attempt to put into a mathematical formula how the majority of spousal support cases have and are being determined in Canada. The SSAG look at factors such as:

  • Length of time the spouses lived together
  • Income of the spouses
  • Ages of the spouses
  • Disabilities in either spouse or the children
  • Number of children, if any (and ages of the children)
  • Special and Extraordinary Expenses of the children

At M. G. Michaels & Associates, our Whitby spousal support lawyers use sophisticated software called DivorceMate to calculate spousal support payments. Once relevant factors are entered into the software data systems, the system will generate a range of monthly spousal support calculations particular to your situation.

The final DivorceMate calculation will provide you with a low-range, mid-range, and high-range payment value so you are able to see the different options available to you. Based on the lawyer’s experience, we can complete non-standard calculations as well, which provide different options for settlement or to the Court and which may be more appropriate than the basic calculation results produced.

DivorceMate has a free online tool on the Internet for spouses to conduct very basic calculations, called My Support Calculator. Keep in mind, however, that this free version of the software has limited functionality and does not take into account additional factors accounted for in the paid version. Contact one of our spousal support lawyers to run a full and complete spousal support calculation on the full, paid version of the software before making any final commitments on spousal support.

How Long Do I Have to Apply for Spousal Support? 

It is important to note that time limits may apply if you intend to apply for spousal support. If you are or were married, there is no limitation period to apply for spousal support under the Divorce Act. Our Whitby spousal support lawyers at M. G. Michaels & Associates can advise you, once we learn about your specific situation.

Generally, if you intend to apply as an unmarried spouse under the Family Law Act, however, limitation periods do apply.

  1. If you were married and do not wish to apply under the Divorce Act, you must apply for spousal support under this Act within 2 years of your divorce
  2. If you are not married, but still qualify as a spouse, you must apply for spousal support within 2 years of your separation date

Calculating spousal support can be challenging and it is important to meet the spousal support limitation period. Family law lawyers are best positioned to help you navigate spousal support law. Further, in the case of high net-worth spouses, the rights of spouses entitled to receive, the obligations of spouses required to pay and the amounts of spousal support payable are even more complicated.

What our Whitby Spousal Support Lawyers Can Do For You

Many factors, considerations and circumstances can and will impact whether or not spousal support is payable, how long spousal support will have to be paid, how much spousal support is paid, and whether or not spousal support can be changed after an order or agreement is made. At M. G. Michaels & Associates, Whitby spousal support lawyers, we are equipped with the knowledge and experience to expertly advise and guide you through any claims for or defenses against spousal support.

The law of spousal support can be complex and fraught with pitfalls which may be avoided. Further, particularly in the case of common law spouses, limitation periods may apply, so it is important not to delay in seeking advice from one of our experienced Whitby divorce lawyers.

Contact us now by email or phone, to learn more about your obligations (to pay) or your spousal support entitlements (to receive) spousal support.