Spousal Support (Alimony)
Vaughan Spousal Support Lawyers
Spousal support is paid by one spouse to another after a separation or divorce in order to ensure the recipient spouse does not suffer financial difficulties due to the breakdown of the relationship. In some cases, one spouse may have foregone income during the relationship in order to support the other spouse, or raise the couple’s children, and would therefore face a significant financial burden without this support. In other cases, spouses or partners may have drastically different incomes, and so the person with higher income will pay support to the spouse with a lower income while they become more self-sufficient.
At Bortolussi Family Law, our family lawyers represent clients on both sides of spousal support disputes. Combined, we have over 120 years of experience navigating various support matters, and we use our considerable experience to protect our clients’ rights, whether they are the payor or recipient of spousal support. We understand that financial matters, particularly financial insecurity, can bring added stress to the already complicated separation process, and we work to resolve these matters quickly and favourably for our clients, so they can move on with confidence.
Spousal Support Expectations Can Be Pre-determined in a Family Law Contract
It is possible for a couple to avoid a dispute at the time of separation by pre-determining each person’s rights and obligations surrounding spousal support in advance. By including this matter in a cohabitation agreement or marriage contract, a couple can opt to set out specific terms regarding spousal support or forego the right to spousal support altogether. This can be a considerable benefit in the event of a separation by removing a potential area of dispute in advance.
Determining Entitlement to Spousal Support
In cases of a dispute, entitlement to spousal support must be agreed upon between the parties or determined by a court or Family Law Arbitrator. Entitlement to spousal support must first be established. Once established, spousal support may be based on the needs of the spouse, the ability of the other spouse to pay and other circumstances. Spousal support may also be granted on a compensatory basis or on a lifestyle established during the spousal relationship.
The amount of spousal support is often calculated based on the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines. These Guidelines take a number of factors into consideration, including the income of both spouses from all sources, child support payable, and the amount of net disposable income in each of the households.
The duration of support will depend on a number of factors including the length of the spousal relationship, the age and level of dependency of children, and if and when the recipient spouse will be able to become self-supporting.
Note that child support is given priority, and as such will always be calculated first before spousal support is considered.
Spousal Support Applies to Married and Common Law Spouses
While commonly associated with married relationships, spousal support may also be warranted in a common law separation. In order to be deemed common law for the purposes of spousal support, a relationship must satisfy the following criteria:
- The couple must have cohabitated as a couple for at least three years; or
- If they have a child together, the couple must have been in a relationship of some permanence.
Beyond establishing a common law relationship to demonstrate that spousal support is warranted, the potential recipient must be able to show that:
- They were required to limit their own career or income during the relationship due to family responsibilities, such as child-rearing or supporting their spouse;
- They will face financial difficulty on their own due to the separation, and their spouse has enough assets to provide support; or
- There is an agreement in place, such as a cohabitation agreement, which sets out spousal support obligations in the event of a separation.
Contact the Divorce Lawyers at Bortolussi Family Law in Vaughan for Representation in Spousal Support Disputes
At Bortolussi Family Law, our divorce lawyers are dedicated to resolving spousal support disputes for our clients in accordance with their rights under the law. We strive to ensure our client understands their obligations and pays only what is fair and reasonable within the law and that he or she receives all of the support to which they’re entitled. If you are looking to establish spousal support expectations as part of a marriage or cohabitation agreement, we will ensure you are aware of your rights and don’t unintentionally give up those rights.
From our office in Vaughan, we assist clients from across the Greater Toronto Area, extending out to Mississauga, Brampton, Caledon, Whitchurch-Stouffville, Woodbridge, Maple, Kleinburg, Caledon, Concord, Vaughan, Bolton, Nobleton, Markham, and Etobicoke and all areas in between with spousal support matters. To discuss your circumstances and learn about the options available to you, please reach out to us online or by phone at 416-987-3300.