Spousal support or alimony is an amount of money provided by one spouse or partner to the other after a divorce or separation. In British Columbia, either the former spouses agree to pay spousal support, or they request a spousal support petition to the court and show that they are entitled to it. Upon agreeing to provide spousal support, the next stage is to decide how much and how long spousal support should be.
This can be an exhausting legal process, but there is nothing to worry about as long as you employ a capable practitioner to help you out. In addition, feel free to read the article below to have a glimpse into spousal support and its aspects.
Spousal Support Regulations
Determining spousal support is one of the most challenging aspects of family law. Unlike child support, there is no simple formula for calculating spousal support (through the Child Support Guidelines). While there are Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAG), they are not required by law.
The Amount of Spousal Support in British Columbia
Under the SSAG, there are two types of formulas—with and without child support. If child support is included, spousal support is computed differently.
Using the calculation under the SSAG, the amount of spousal support will depend on the net difference in the former spouses’ salaries. The ranges are fairly broad, especially if there is a significant wage gap or the marriage lasted many years.
Other particular factors are also considered to settle the final computation. They are:
- Financial ability and benefits of the paying spouse
- Merits of any compensatory claims
- Needs of the recipient spouse
- Number of children and their ages and own needs
- Property division
The Duration of Spousal Support in British Columbia
Determining the length of spousal support is equally important as the final amount of support. The duration of the marriage decides this aspect.
If the former couple has no child and were married for five years or less, the final spousal support will most likely be smaller otherwise. It is crucial to know that long marriages may result in “indefinite” amounts of spousal support. It means that changes in the lives of the former spouses will also reflect in the cash support. Certain circumstances warrant either a reduction or termination of spousal support.
Payment Methods of Spousal Support
The default option in British Columbia is periodic payments, where the paying spouse provides a specified sum to the recipient spouse regularly (typically monthly). For the receiving spouse, periodic payments are taxable income and tax-deductible for the paying spouse.
On the other hand, lump-sum spousal support payments are necessary or preferred. In circumstances where the paying spouse may not likely fulfill the periodic payments, they will be required to pay a lump sum. This must already be discounted to reflect in tax.
Lastly, spousal support agreements or orders must be registered with the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP) to ensure proper enforcement. This body is responsible for receiving the payments and sending them to the recipient spouse. They can also carry out the pertinent legal actions if the paying spouse fails to keep up with the periodic payments.