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How does the court decide on spousal support?

Spousal support is a hot-button issue when divorce is imminent. You need to face the fact that this may be something that the court will decide on for you if you and your ex-spouse don't come to a meeting of the minds. The court can, when asked or requested to by either spouse, make an order that requires one of you to pay a lump sum amount or an on-going monthly payment to the requesting spouse. Whatever the court thinks is reasonable is what will be awarded.

It is completely up to the presiding judge how much is paid, so it might behoove you to talk to your ex-spouse and try to work this out between you. The court can impose conditions and will look at the need and circumstances surrounding this request. The court will examine how long the two of you were together. This doesn't mean just married, but if you lived together before you were married, this length of time will be included.

The judge will also see what types of differing responsibilities each of you had. Was one the stay-at-home spouse and did the other spouse desire this? You can see that there are many questions that will arise in a request for spousal support. The judge will ask if the two of you have had a conversation about this and, if so, what you two decided. This is so important because if you two can work it out between you, the terms may be better for both of you.

Getting a lawyer involved can only be a good thing. This legal professional will be able to use his or her experience and knowledge of the laws of Alberta in your favor. This individual has seen this type of situation many times over the years and will be able to provide information and guidance when you most need it.

Source: Divorce Act of Canada, "Spousal support orders," accessed Dec. 22, 2015

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