Common Questions in Calgary Divorces: Understanding Spousal Support: Part 2
December 21, 2016
In Part 1 of this article, you learned that all divorce courts throughout Canada, including here in Calgary, have the authority to grant spousal support—commonly called "alimony"—as either a one-time lump payment or as periodic payments, from one ex-spouse to another. You also learned that Calgary judges are bound by law to consider the length of a marriage, the functions each spouse served in the marriage, and any existing agreements or arrangements spouses already have in place regarding support.
This last issue wasn't fully discussed in the previous article, and is worth some inspection. What it means is that if you and your ex-spouse already have a written agreement such as a marriage contract or domestic contract (also sometimes referred to as a "prenuptial agreement), or if one ex-spouse is already making payments to the other to help support them in a separate household, this can impact the Court's decision to award spousal support and may also influence the amount of support awarded.
This is also one example of why an experienced divorce lawyer/family law lawyer can be such an asset. Before signing any marriage or domestic contract or entering a support arrangement, it is in your best interests to consult with your own lawyer to ensure your rights and interests are fully protected.
What Calgary Judges DON'T Consider in Spousal Support Decisions
Subsection 5 of this section of the Divorce Act is also important for those in Calgary seeking a divorce to understand:
"...the court shall not take into consideration any misconduct of a spouse in relation to the marriage."
In other words, cheating, emotional abuse, and other forms of marital misconduct are not taken into consideration when determining if spousal support is to be awarded, or how much support should be given. While divorces are understandably emotional events for the individuals going through them, the Court stay as unemotional as possible—they do not try to decide who is at fault for the divorce, and they do not let individuals use spousal support and other property/income divisions as a means of addressing emotional wounds.
Instead, spousal support is awarded to achieve very specific objectives, also spelled out by the law.
The Purpose of Spousal Support in Calgary Divorces
Section 15.2, subsection 6 of Canada's Divorce Act reads, in part:
"An order...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;
(c) relieve any economic hardship of the spouses arising from the breakdown of the marriage."
(There's also a Paragraph (b) and (d) that we'll be looking at next).
The central goals of spousal support in a Calgary divorce are to look at the marriage as a financial arrangement, and to help ensure that each ex-spouse leaves that arrangement with fair compensation and the ability to meet their financial obligations. A number of circumstances can affect the economic advantages and disadvantages of being in a marriage—raising a children/making a home typically reduces one's earning capabilities, for instance. Likewise, many things can impact the level of economic hardship each ex-spouse endures as a part of the divorce—if one spouse keeps the family home and the other is required to find a new living space, for example.
A Calgary Divorce Lawyer is Your Best Resource for Spousal Support Answers
Again, no blog can ever provide specific advice for your Calgary divorce. For direct answers to your unique questions, please contact one of our Calgary divorce lawyers today.
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