Spousal Support Guidelines

The child support guidelines are promulgated as law and they’re required to be followed. A judge has no discretion in awarding the amount of child support. Spousal support guidelines are not law; they are still just guidelines.

But the Ontario Court of Appeal in a decision in early 2008 called “Fisher vs. Fisher” held that: where the spousal support award is significantly different from the amount produced by the spousal support guidelines, the court has to specify the reasons why it’s different. The guidelines are now essentially taking on the role similar to previous case laws.

For example, perhaps in 10 cases someone who is earning a $100,000 with a wife or a dependent who earns $10,000, is told to pay $3,000 a month in spousal support. Now, if a court awards an amount that varies a lot from that, the court has to give reasons for doing so.

These guidelines are generally accessed through a computer program. Lawyers, who specialize in Family Law, typically will have that at their fingertips and also the important data for the case such as the length of the marriage, length of cohabitation, number of children, ages of the children, incomes of the parties, and the age of the parties that are needed for the calculation. The calculation is determined based on the difference in disposable incomes between the parties and takes into account child support as well.
The Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision in Fisher from January 2008 now essentially guides the Ontario courts and indicates to them that they are to follow those guidelines.

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If you, or someone you care about, is dealing with family law issues in the London, Ontario Region, contact Michael Nyhof Barrister & Solicitor for a consultation.

This article is taken from a May 04, 2009 interview with Michael Nyhof, Family Lawyer with Michael Nyhof Barrister & Solicitor, a London 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.