In Canada, there are federal laws that determine how divorces between married couples proceed, but the laws for married couples who are separating and common-law partners who are ending a relationship are set by the British Columbia government as well as the governments of other provinces and territories. Federal divorce law states that spousal support may be required once a married couple divorces, and this generally occurs when there is a large difference between the incomes of the divorcing individuals.
In some cases, spousal support may not be required if the person with the lower income has a large amount of assets or if the income differences do not appear to have come about as a result of the marriage. For spousal support to be owed, it is generally because one individual made sacrifices to their career or income to care for children or to further the other spouse’s income. It may also be required if one spouse is in financial need.
Judges consider a variety of issues when determining how much spousal support is to be paid, including the financial situation of each spouse, the roles of each spouse during the marriage and the duration of the marriage. Child support takes priority, so if a spouse is already paying child support, the amount of spousal support may be adjusted accordingly.
There is no set formula for determining if a spouse receives support following a divorce nor how much payments may be. Since judges make these decisions, the evidence and circumstances presented may have an impact on the outcome of a case. A lawyer may be able to assist a client going through a divorce in developing and presenting a solid argument.