Spousal Support

Spousal support is the transfer of income, usually monthly, from one spouse/partner to the other.  Support can be paid in a lump sum payment, in monthly installments, or a combination of both.  A lump sum payment is tax neutral to both the recipient and the payor, while monthly installments are usually taxable income to the recipient and usually provide a tax deduction for the payor.

 

Common law partners in an “adult interdependent relationship” may be entitled to apply for spousal support. It is not only for those who have married. Common law partners in an adult interdependent relationship may be entitled to apply for spousal support; however, different legislation, and therefore different factors apply to unmarried partners.

 

Judges and arbitrators sometimes order spousal support to be paid for a limited period with an end date. Other times, support may be ordered for an indefinite period and may be varied in the future as circumstances change. Some changes in circumstances count, others do not.

 

Income is sometimes simple to calculate for support purposes. But where a spouse is intentionally underemployed, or there are complex tax issues at play, it is not simple.

 

Entitlement to spousal support can flow from simple “need” (defined in various ways in the law) or from an income-earning disadvantage caused by the marriage or common law partnership.

 

Non-lawyers are not allowed under the law to give legal advice about spousal support that is specific to you (i.e., as opposed to generic legal information). Be cautious about investing in a process that involves a negotiation without access to quality legal advice at each step of the negotiation.

 

Finally, spousal support often must dovetail with child support and property division. It is easy for spousal support arrangements to accidentally involve double counting. Talk to your family lawyer about your unique case and how other parts of your negotiation may impact spousal support before making any lasting decisions.

 

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