Spousal Support - Married Couples
- Legislative authority is the Federal Divorce Act
- Government of Canada has published non binding Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines ( SSAG’s)
- Principles include first determining the guideline income of the parties
- Then determining entitlement to support based on the relationship history.
- Once entitlement is found an order for spousal support is normally made in a recurring amount (quantum) for a defined period (term)
Common law couples entitlement to partner support – governed by the Alberta Family Law Act
The party filing the claim must first be found to have been an Adult Interdependent Partner (A.I.P.), which is generally defined as follows:
- three years of continuous cohabitation or
- having had a child together or
- signing an agreement in the prescribed form acknowledging the relationship
ELIGIBILITY FOR SPOUSAL /PARTNER SUPPORT
To be eligible for support the APPLICABLE LEGISLATION sets out several factors:
- (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.
OBJECTIVES OF SPOUSAL /PARTNER SUPPORT
- (a) Recognize any economic advantages or disadvantages to the spouses arising from the marriage or its breakdown;
- (b) apportion, between the former spouse, any financial consequences arising from the care of any child(ren) of the marriage over and above any obligation for the support of any child(ren) 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.
SPOUSAL SUPPORT ADVISORY GUIDELINES (SSAG’S)
Once eligibility for support is established, The S.S.A.G’s are only a suggested guideline for determining spousal support.
The S.S.A.G’s compuerized formulas estimates the range of the monthly amount (quantum) the payor should pay the recipient based on guideline income at a low, mid, and high range. Courts frequently accept the amount found at the mid-range.
The normal term of support is a suggested minimum of one-half of the length of the relationship to a maximum of an indefinite duration for a longer relationship or older parties.
TAX DEDUCTIBILITY OF SPOUSAL/PARTNER SUPPORT (not applicable to lump-sum payments)
Spousal/partner support is taxable to the recipient as income in the year paid and tax deductible to the payor in the year paid only if:
- the parties are separated;
- there is a written agreement or court order specifying the recurring amounts of support;
- payable in a fixed amount on a recurring basis (for example monthly)
- the recipient has discretion on use of the support; and
- there is a provision for third-party payments (i.e. mortgage payments).
The Canada Revenue Agency (C.R.A.) is becoming very strict and may require a written acknowledgement of payment from the spouse that is receiving the support payments.
LUMP SUM SPOUSAL/PARTNER SUPPORT (TAX FREE)
- Alternatively, spousal/partner support could be paid in a one time lump sum.
- The lump sum is based on the net after tax amount of a presumed stream of spousal/partner support for a prescribed term , adjusted to its present value.
- Lump sum spousal/partner support is rarely ordered by a Court.
- It is usually established by an agreement between the parties.
Family law Services
Spousal /Partner Support Calculations
The resulting spousal/partner support is a computerized calculation factoring in all child support, applicable government taxes and benefits. See the below link to the spousal support calculator or contact us for further assistance.
MAINTENANCE ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM (MEP)
- Alberta Provincial government program.
- MEP collects court-ordered child support, spousal/partner support, and enforces the payment of support as needed;
- The recipient can opt out of such enforcement;
MEP has broad powers to collect child support and spousal/partner support arrears, such as:
- the suspension of licences i.e. driver’s licence or seizure of passports;
- garnishing income of the payor; or
- they can enforce arrears against the payor’s property.
Helpful Information and Resources for Spousal/Partner Support Matters
The Notice to Disclose Application is commonly used in family law to request financial disclosure. This provides your lawyer the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of both you and your former spouse or adult interdependent partners overall finances to assist in negotiating child and spousal support and property equalization. Once a Notice to Disclose Application is served, both parties have an ongoing obligation to provide up to date and current financial disclosure until a resolution is reached.
The Schedule A forms part of the parties standard financial disclosure obligations and is provided in the Notice to Disclose Application. This document summarizes a party’s assets and liabilities. It must be sworn before a Commissioner for Oath in and for the Province of Alberta and ensures that party’s are forthcoming and transparent when providing their financial disclosure.
A budget is included in the standard Notice to Disclose Application. The attached template provides a comprehensive summary of income and expenses. Often, budgets are used to gain a deeper understanding of each party’s current monthly surplus/deficit to assist with child and spousal support applications.
The Department of Justice has provided this free resource that allows you to look-up your base Section 3 child support amount based on the Federal Child Support Guidelines. This does not constitute or replace legal advice. You may still wish to seek advice from a lawyer with respect to your specific situation.