What You Need To Know About Spousal Support

One of the most common misconceptions of spousal support is that it is required or mandated, especially in cases where one person stopped working during a relationship such as when the children came along. Spousal support is never guaranteed. In addition, specific time limitations apply.

All of these factors underscore the need to have knowledgeable counsel on your side when divorcing or separating from a partner. At Westside Family Law, we have combined decades of experience helping families of all kinds in Vancouver understand and protect their interests in family law matters. We will seek support solutions that put you on a path towards financial stability following separation.

Determining Spousal Support

After a breakup, the law is structured to promote both parties to become self-supporting, but it also recognizes that this goal may not be achievable in the short term or at all. Perhaps a spouse needs to go back to school or needs assistance while rebuilding his or her career. The following list provides general guidance on the criteria used for establishing spousal support:

  • The age, health and education of both spouses as it affects their ability to find a job
  • The current income or skills and employability of both spouses
  • Assets or property the couple owned either before or during the marriage and the potential income these assets may generate (such as rental revenue)
  • Alternative sources of income like inheritances or windfalls such as a lottery win
  • The age and number of children the couple supports, both together or from other relationships
  • The length of the marriage or relationship if common law (generally considered to be those who live together for at least two years)
  • The standard of living the couple enjoyed while together, though the Court understands that most people's lifestyles will necessarily change due to separation

Note that financial need is not the only basis for which support may be awarded. That being said, the recipient spouse must establish his or her "right" or claim to support. Should the matter go before a judge, he or she will look at these and a variety of other factors before determining whether spousal support should be awarded.

'Show Me The Money'

The law expects full and frank disclosure of your financial records for the purposes of determining support. If one spouse bargains in bad faith, hides assets or exerts undue pressure on the other to accept an agreement, the Court may set aside the agreement based on "fairness."

Our firm has the resources and tools to find hidden assets and expose wrongdoing. If you suspect your spouse is playing games with your case, we can fight back.

Spousal Support And Taxes

Revenue Canada generally assesses monthly (periodic) spousal support payments as income for recipients and as tax deductible for payers. Though simple, problems can arise if you are not diligent in documenting your support payments. There are a few ways to ensure that your spousal support is calculated accurately at year's end:

  • You must have a written agreement or Court order specifying periodic support to be taxable or nontaxable.
  • Include a provision that the recipient must issue an annual receipt of spousal support payments made that can be filed with the payer's tax return. A receipt like this can help to prevent each spouse listing different amounts on his or her tax return.
  • Sign up for BC's Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP), which is a free public enforcement agency available to both payers and recipients that maintains a record and schedule of all support payments.

Get Answers To Your Questions About Spousal Support

As with everything on our website, this information should not be taken for legal advice. The best way to navigate spousal support issues is to work with a skilled lawyer from Westside Family Law. We will make it our priority to find an effective resolution to your family law-related issues. Call us at 604-800-8853 or send us an email to get started.