Common Questions in Calgary Divorces: Understanding Spousal Support: Part 3
December 28, 2016
In Parts 1 and 2 of this article, you learned that the considerations and objectives of spousal support awards in Calgary divorces are set forth in Canada's Divorce Act. Specifically, we described how spousal support payments can occur as either a one-time lump sum or as periodic payments, and we saw that the law and Calgary's judges treat divorces as the dissolving of a financial partnership—orders for support do not consider emotional components of the marriage or divorce such as infidelity, however Calgary judges do look at the length of a marriage, any financial advantages or disadvantages experienced by each of the ex-spouses as a result of the marriage, and any economic hardships suffered by one or both of the ex-spouses as a result of the divorce.
All of this is spelled out in Section 15.2 of Canada's Divorce Act. The section also contains two important provisions that we left out of the previous article but feel are worthy of addressing here. Subsection 6 deals with the objectives of spousal support orders in Calgary divorces; the key objectives for many cases were discussed in Part 2, but the objectives addressed in paragraphs (b) and (d) were not addressed:
(6) An order...that provides for the support of a spouse should
(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;
(d) in so far as practicable, promote the economic self-sufficiency of each spouse within a reasonable period of time.
Paragraph (b) sounds complicated but is actually relatively straightforward. It simply means that child support orders should take precedence over spousal support orders, as the goal in any divorce that involves children is always to put the children's interests first and foremost. If the Calgary judge overseeing your divorce determines that a child support award limits your or your ex-spouses ability to also pay spousal support, a spousal support order can be reduced or eliminated accordingly.
Paragraph (d) can also be interpreted in a straightforward manner, though in practice the effect can be somewhat complex. What this paragraph means is that spousal support ordered in Calgary divorces isn't intended, in most cases, to provide perpetual support for either spouse. Instead, a spousal support order should be designed to enable the individual receiving support to ultimately become financially independent and self-sufficient, after taking into consideration any financial disadvantage that occurred during the marriage.
As with all aspects of Canada's Divorce Act, it is impossible to say how these parts of the law might apply to your unique Calgary divorce. With a better understanding of the law's intent, it is our hope that you feel more confident in asking your lawyer questions about your specific divorce, and to make the right decisions for you and your family.
A Dedicated Calgary Divorce Lawyer is Your Most Valuable Asset
If you are considering a divorce, or if you are already seeking a divorce in the Calgary area, and you have questions regarding spousal support or any other aspects of your divorce, please contact GDE Family Law today to get the help you deserve.
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