Once a couple divorce or separate, the amount of money paid by one spouse to the other is known as spousal support.
Usually, the spouse making the higher income pays spousal support to the other spouse with the other income. In spousal support, the gender of the spouses is not relevant.
The Divorce Act outlines the spousal support rules for all married couples who divorce. This Divorce Act is federally regulated and applies across all Canadian provinces.
The Federal Act does not govern common law couples who are not married and married couples who are separating. In these cases, provincial rules apply.
Who is eligible to get spousal support?
Married and common-law couples are eligible to receive and pay spousal support. Spousal support is allowed for unmarried couples who
- Lived together for a minimum of three years
- Should have had some semblance of permanence in their relationship and had a child together
What is the purpose of spousal support?
Spousal support is vital for many reasons including:
- Sharing financial costs for childcare
- Acknowledge a spouse’ contributions to the relationship
- Help to relieve financial issues
- Support a spouse so that they are able to start contributions to their own support
- Balance any economic advantage or disadvantage to a spouse resulting from ending of the relationship
In cases where a spouse is giving up their job to do full-time childcare, self-support may not be possible immediately. It is advisable that, spouses become self-supporting as soon as possible.
How do you get spousal support?
The separation agreement expressly mentions the spousal support clauses after both the spouses have negotiated and agreed upon them. Other issues like child support, property division, custody and access arrangements are also discussed upon at the same time and included in the separation agreement.
Mediators and Lawyers assist the spouses in reaching an agreement. If it doesn’t work out, an arbitrator or a judge has to step in to resolve the situation.
How do judges decide on spousal support?
Judges decide upon spousal support issues after considering many diverse factors.
In different couples, differing factors may be considered to come into agreement on the final spousal support situation. A judge may consider the financial need of a spouse or recognize the need to compensate one spouse for unpaid work they did in the duration of the relationship.
Along with the need for spousal support, the amount and duration of paying the support are also decided by the judge based on the following factors:
- The relationship duration
- If children were borne of the relationship then what are their custody arrangements
- The spouses’ respective roles during the relationship
- The spouses’ ages
- The financial situation of each spouse
Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAGs) are also referred by the judges while making their decision on spousal support.
What is the tax treatment for the Spousal support payments?
All spousal support payments made according to written agreements or court orders are taxable in hands of the recipient and given for the support of the recipient. They can be claimed as tax deductible by the payer in certain situations including:
- Amount to be paid to the spouse or common-law partner is clearly stated in the order or agreement
- All previous and current child support payments are completely paid out
Priority of child support
In cases, where child support payments are mentioned in the court order or agreement, child support payments have priority. All payments are first applied towards child support. Payments exceeding this amount is deemed to be spousal support for the recipient.
The spouse can claim spousal support as a deduction only once child support payments are completely received by them. If child support amount is outstanding and not received, it will be carried forward for the forthcoming year’s support payments.
In a divorce, the reasons for ending a marriage have no impact on one spouse’s responsibility to support the other. No-fault divorce law exists in Canada.
Child and Spousal Support
As per the Divorce Act, in cases where the child and spousal support have been requested, the judge will prioritize child support. Supporting the children needs to be the primary responsibility of both parents.
Child support payments
As per the court orders and agreements, all support amount not specifically stated to be for the recipient is considered as child support payment.
The child support payments are not included in the recipient’s income and are not tax deductible by the payer.
How We Can Help
At Nanda & Associate Lawyers, our capable divorce lawyers help in making effective representation for spousal support. They understand your specific circumstances and provide tailored and customized solutions for each of them. Many legal complexities exist in formulating spousal support plans, and an experienced divorce lawyer can help you to navigate better.
Our Mississauga Divorce Lawyers are available for a no-obligation free consultation. Come and experience our quality legal counsel and personalized care we give to each client.