For the most part, spousal support (alimony) is meant to be a temporary measure to give one spouse time to get back on his or her feet. It is not always an automatic entitlement or obligation, especially in short-term marriages or in relationships where spouses are financially equal.
Often partner support (also called adult interdependent partner support for common law couples) is a way for a lower-income spouse to gain compensation for sacrifices made during the relationship. Sacrifices may include moving to support the higher-earning partner’s career, putting him or her through school and taking time off work to raise children.
At Calgary Family Law Associates, our lawyers use the federal government’s Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAGs) as a starting point for the discussion. The SSAGs use the relative income of each spouse and the length of the marriage to determine a range of generally acceptable support amounts, and to give an idea of how long a lower-earning spouse can expect to be supported.
Support amounts outside of the SSAGs are usually reserved for situations that are out of the ordinary in some way. These include:
- Non-traditional income and self-employment: If you or your spouse is self-employed, earns much of your income from investments and commissions, or has other non-salary income, you will need to take into account special considerations.
- Long-term relationships: For relationships of 20 years or more, spousal support may be a lifelong entitlement or obligation.
- Hidden income or assets: Full financial disclosure is essential. If you suspect there are hidden assets, you may decide that additional money and effort must be spent tracking them down and that any support agreement takes into account the history of dishonesty.
If necessary, we can work with other trusted professionals to ensure that all property and income are fully disclosed and fairly evaluated. We will also discuss whether you would prefer the support to be ongoing or lump sum, and will talk about tax consequences for you as payor or recipient.
The point of spousal support is to make sure that both sides are able to move on with their lives. We will work with you to ensure that this happens.
Contact Calgary Family Law Associates
Our lawyers help partners in Calgary and surrounding parts of Alberta determine fair and reasonable spousal support. Contact us at 587-316-1125, or contact each lawyer individually. You can also fill out our online form.