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Entitlement to Spousal Support
How Family Mediation Helps
There are a number of reasons why spousal support is provided and maintained for an arranged period of time. Although, it is important to remember that spousal support is meant to be a temporary outlet for financial assistance. Therefore, the law encourages you to learn and aspire to become financially established on your own in the future. Provided below is a list of reasons to better understand the purpose behind spousal support payments:
- Ability to recognize and consider both partner’s financial contributions to the relationship;
- Provides financial support to a partner who may have quit their career for the betterment of the relationship or family in previous years; therefore, cannot currently financially support themselves or their children;
- Financially supports costs of any children that may be involved;
- Eliminates or balances any existing financial debt or future hardship; and
- Provides a financial foundation for a partner to gain new skills or a job to financially support themselves in the near future.
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Calculating Spousal Support
How Mediation Assists With Divorce
There are a number of factors that the law considers when calculating spousal support and the length of time it will be provided for.
The two main factors that spousal support is based on include:
- the amount the asking partner requires to meet their living needs; and
- the amount the other spouse can afford to provide.
Other factors may include:
- How long the couple lived together;
- If there are children involved;
- The gross income of each partner;
- The age of each partner;
- The roles each partner fulfilled during the relationship;
- The physical and mental health of each partner; and
- The ability of each partner to support themselves independently.
Typically, amounts paid are lesser if there are smaller differences between each partner’s incomes and if the relationship was short lived. To add, one may claim either long term or short term spousal support to equalize the financial wellbeing of both parties once the relationship has ended. Usually, long term support is asked to prevent serious financial challenges in the future, whereas short term support is meant to help stabilize the individual until they are able to be financially self-sufficient. There are also numerous options on how a partner can receive or pay this financial support. So, when do you have to pay spousal support? You can either receive or pay a one-time lump-sum payment or regular monthly payments throughout a number of years, which should be indicated within your Separation Agreement.
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Using the Ranges for Spousal Support
Save Time & Avoid Costs
Mediation is a confidential and non-adversarial process intended to help couples reach settlements on all issues relating to their separation. It is often the preferred choice for couples wishing to avoid the timely, costly, and emotionally draining process of litigation (family court).
The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines formulas help determine ranges for the suggested amount of spousal support for couples. There is a low range, mid range and a high range of support amounts. The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines clearly state that the mid-point of the guidelines should NOT be treated as the default outcome. Discussions should be had with regards to the ranges of support, what claims both parties are making, needs and ability to pay of payor, property division and debts, and the recipients needs.
Calculating spousal support is a very important task as the ranges are made up based on a significant amount of information. The ranges for both amount and duration of spousal support can be quite broad so it many cases time is spent helping the couple determine entitlement, agreeing on the incomes they are using for the support calculations, discussing the ranges, agreeing upon an amount and duration.
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Spousal Support Calculators
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Calculating spousal support using an online spousal support calculator can be helpful to give you an idea of what your spousal support ranges would be. When calculating spousal support online, you will see three amounts, a low, mid and a high range of suggested support options.
It is important to note that using a basic online spousal support calculator can provide you with ranges of family support, but it is always encouraged that couples work with a family mediator or family law lawyers for more accurate spousal support calculations.
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Alimony vs. Spousal Support vs. Spousal Maintenance
These three terms, Alimony, Spousal Support and Spousal Maintenance all mean the same thing, however Alimony is a term used in the United States, Spousal Support is used in Canada and Spousal Maintenance is used in the UK. The terms all reference the legal obligation for one spouse/partner to pay the other upon the dissolution of the relationship.
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In Ontario, the law believes marriage to be a financial partnership, meaning that separate finances and assets don’t exist. Generally speaking, all assets and income earned during the marriage are shared and combined (minus some exceptions). For that reason, if a relationship ends, it is important to discuss all financials and earned income with one another. A family mediator can help with these discussions as well.
However, divorce payments are payments made during separation and divorce processes, which can include; equalization payments, transfer of registered funds, child support, contribution towards special and extraordinary expenses, and spousal support.
During the mediation process, we discuss all divorce payments. As family mediators, we can help the couple reach agreements on the matters listed above. It is extremely important to include the agreed upon terms in a Separation Agreement.