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What is Spousal Support?
How Family Mediation Helps
When a married couple or common law partners decide to separate or divorce from one another, spousal support may be paid or received once the relationship has ended. What is spousal support you ask? Spousal support is a legal obligation of one partner to financially support their spouse/partner before and after a marital divorce or separation has occurred. Spousal support can also be referred to as alimony or Spousal Maintenance. Alimony is the American variation of this type of financial support and spousal maintenance is typically used in the UK. Therefore, there is no difference between spousal support, alimony and spousal maintenance besides the specific guidelines and laws in place depending on where you reside. When a relationship comes to an end, one partner may be responsible to pay spousal support or will receive spousal support from their previous partner. Spousal support payments apply to partners who are married, as well as couples in a common-law relationship. In Ontario, spousal support can be received in same-sex marriages as well.
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Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines
How Mediation Assists With Divorce
The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines suggest ranges of spousal support once a spouse/partner has claimed entitlement to support including a range for how long spousal support could be paid for.
It is important to note that these are simply guidelines and not government laws; therefore, a final amount will have to be determined by the couple, with or without the help of a family mediator, family law lawyer or a judge. The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines assist with calculating a wide range of support amounts and the length of time it will be paid. You may need specific software to generate a calculation for spousal support using the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines; however, you can research how to calculate spousal support through various online spousal support/alimony calculators. Online spousal support/alimony calculators can provide only a rough calculation for those interested, but it is recommended that you work with a family mediator, or a family law lawyer to help with these calculations.
A commonly asked question is, “how long do you have to be married/common law to get spousal support?” The answer very much depends on a couple’s particular situation. For couples without children the range could be anywhere between half a year to a year for each year of marriage or cohabitation. Under the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines, once a couple has been married for 20 years a partner may be entitled to indefinite length of support. The guidelines suggest that once a couple has reached or surpassed 20 years of marriage the support recipient is obligated to the support with no restricted timeframe, regardless of their entitlement or eligibility.
Many judges and family law lawyers base their decisions regarding spousal support on the guidelines. Family mediators also reference the guidelines to help with the discussions on entitlement and spousal support amounts.
During the mediation sessions, a number of questions and answers can be discussed in regard to spousal support amounts and duration, such as:
- What is Spousal Support?
- Is there a difference between Spousal Maintenance, Alimony, and Spousal Support?
- What do the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines tell us?
- What are the ranges of spousal support in our situation?
- How long am I to maintain spousal support?
- What can trigger a change in the spousal support payments?
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What is Child Support and How does Child Support work?
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Child support is referred to as the money one parent provides the other parent to financially support their child or children, or in a shared custody scenario, money that both parents pay to one another to financially support their child/children.
A child requires financial support from both parents, as it provides the child with a better chance of succeeding and ensuring overall wellbeing. There are different forms of child support, which are reflective of your personalized situation; although, will be based on the same set of government rules and expectations. The rules and expectations for child support can be found in the Federal Child Support Guidelines. In Canada, children have the legal right to financial support from both parents. Evidently, this law is based on the principle that a child should be financially supported by both parents regardless of the cause of divorce or separation.
So, how does child support work? Ultimately, there are three main factors to take into consideration when calculating an amount that will be paid for child support; the gross income before taxes and other deductions, where the child is going to be living, and how many children are involved in the situation. When divorcing and separating with kids involved, the amount of child support is comprised of federal and provincial guidelines that speak on the amount of support that should be paid, what may constitute a change in child support, for how long child support should be paid etc. By law, child support payments continue until the child reaches 18 years of age, at that point they may be stopped or can continue if the child is enrolled in post secondary education.
Whether you call it spousal support, alimony or spousal maintenance, the topic of support can be complicated. The calculations to determine the amount of support required are complex, and there are many factors that play a role in determining what is appropriate. With the help of state-of-the-art software, referencing the Federal Child Support Guidelines and the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines we can help to provide an accurate calculation that ensures the best possible future for your children, as well as an outcome that each of you feel is fair.
DICLAIMER: A Separation Agreement is a contract between you and your spouse or partner that states the settlement of issues relating to your separation. Drafting your Separation Agreement is an administrative task and by doing so does not mean we are implying that we are lawyers and providing any legal advice. We strongly encourage any persons who are going through mediation to receive Independent Legal advice from a family law lawyer.