Calgary Divorce Law and Spousal Support: Part 1
February 19, 2016
Divorce is consistently listed as one of the most stressful life events people typically go through, not just here in Calgary but throughout the world. Not only does a divorce signify the end of a relationship, which comes with a great deal of emotional upheaval and a significant sense of loss, but it also has a major impact on the practicalities of day-to-day survival—you might have to move, your household income and assets could be changed drastically, and so on.
From an outside perspective, it can seem petty to worry about things like money in light of the emotional and interpersonal aspects of a divorce, but the fact is a divorce can drastically change your career plans and financial security, and these are vital issues for your long-term happiness and even your survival. It is little surprise, then, that spousal support is one of the most contentious and complex issues in many Calgary divorces, and one that causes worry for many couples and individuals undergoing a divorce.
As part of GDE Family Law's commitment to providing the people of Calgary with the best possible information regarding Calgary divorce law, we're publishing this article series to help explain the basics of spousal support in Calgary divorces. While this general information can't tell you exactly what to expect in our unique case, it will give you a better idea of how judges determine support and how you can work with your Calgary divorce lawyer to achieve the best outcome in your divorce.
Spousal Support Under The Divorce Act
Calgary couples who are legally married (i.e. not simply in a common law relationship) are subject to the rules for spousal support as set forth in Section 15.2 of the Divorce Act. Subsection 1 of this section grants courts the authority to order spousal support payments as a lump sum and/or periodic payments, and subsection 2 allows courts to impose an interim order for support while the matter is examined and debated in court. Subsection 3 grants the court authority in determining appropriate periods for support and other terms and conditions it thinks are just, with the rest of the section reads as follows:
(4) In making an order under subsection (1) or an interim order under subsection (2), the court shall take into consideration the condition, means, needs and other circumstances of each spouse, including
- (a) the length of time the spouses cohabited;
- (b) the functions performed by each spouse during cohabitation; and
- (c) any order, agreement or arrangement relating to support of either spouse.
(5) In making an order under subsection (1) or an interim order under subsection (2), the court shall not take into consideration any misconduct of a spouse in relation to the marriage.
(6) An order made under subsection (1) or an interim order under subsection (2) that provides for the support of a spouse should
- (a) recognize any economic advantages or disadvantages to the spouses arising from the marriage or its breakdown;
- (b) apportion between the spouses any financial consequences arising from the care of any child of the marriage over and above any obligation for the support of any child of the marriage;
- (c) relieve any economic hardship of the spouses arising from the breakdown of the marriage; and
- (d) in so far as practicable, promote the economic self-sufficiency of each spouse within a reasonable period of time.
We'll look at each of these elements in detail in upcoming articles, but essentially the Courts are given broad latitude to consider how a marriage affected each spouse financially, including how caring for children might have affected careers and earnings, but the court does not consider things like extramarital affairs or other "misconduct" when determining support, except insofar as dissipation is concerned.
Discuss Spousal Support with your Calgary Divorce Lawyer
If you have questions regarding spousal support in your specific situation, contacting an experienced Calgary divorce lawyer is the only way to get directly relevant advice and insight. You can contact GDE Family Law with your questions any time.
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