How The Amount Of Spousal Support Is Determined
The quantum, or amount, of child support used to be a more fluid concept. Now, with the advent of the Child Support Guidelines over ten years ago, the guesswork has been taken out and the tables tell us exactly what the father is going to pay to the mother.
In spousal support, we don’t have the same tables, but we do have something called the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines. These are guidelines that were developed to take into account the purposes and objectives of spousal support. Instead of coming up with an actual number, a quantum, it gives us a range depending on certain circumstances. There are computer programs which input the actual incomes of the parties, the number of children older than seven, and the ones that are younger than seven. The program takes into consideration any special or extraordinary expenses that the parties are paying and the child support that is being paid from father to mother. From there, we can come up with a range of spousal support.
The range goes from lower to middle to upper depending on the roles taken on during the marriage, the length of the marriage, and other circumstances that can then be argued before the court as to which range should apply. Typically, we need to determine first what the child support will be before we can determine what the spousal support is going to be.
When looking at the objectives of spousal support, and taking into consideration the means and the needs and other circumstances of the parties, we don’t just look at what each person earns. We also need to take a look at the capital position of the party because there are times when there is going to be a very large equalization payment made by the husband to the wife, and that equalization payment might be sufficient for the wife to live on or may generate an income. The husband might be an employee earning a $100 thousand a year, but if he also has various investments making millions of dollars in addition to his employment, that needs to be taken into consideration as well.
We also want to take a look at what role each person played during the marriage. Is the wife able to achieve some level of disparity? What is the disparity in the parties’ respective incomes? Also, we need to consider the length of the relationship. We don’t just look at the length of the marriage. We look at the length of the entire period of cohabitation, because some people may be married for a handful years but actually lived together for ten years prior to that. The roles they took on during that time need to be taken into consideration as well. These are all factors that contribute to the decision of how much spousal support will be awarded.
If you, or someone you care about, is dealing with family law issues in York Region, Durham Region or Toronto, contact Feldstein Family Law Group for a consultation.
This article is taken from a October 09, 2007 interview with Andrew Feldstein, Family Lawyer with Feldstein Family Law Group, a Toronto Ontario Family Law Firm. Note that laws vary from province to province. Please consult with a lawyer in your own area to be sure of the laws and specific issues in your own jurisdiction.