Inquisitr has reported that although Kaley Cuoco and Ryan Sweeting have only been married for a few months, there have been a number of reports indicating trouble in the marriage. Inquisitr further reported that friends of the couple advised that their dysfunctional marriage is about to crumble into divorce.
This case gives us the opportunity to address the legal issues that arise out of a short term marriage, in particular, whether a party may be awarded spousal support arising out of the breakdown of a short term marriage.
Section 15.3 of the Divorce Act expressly provides that courts must give priority to orders for child support before awarding spousal support. Kaley Cuoco and Ryan Sweeting have no children together, making this provision of the Divorce Act irrelevant. However, the legislation and case law engrains the principle that spousal support decisions must take into account the overall economic circumstances of families at separation, and the availability of resources to meet these claims.
Section 15.2(4) of the Divorce Act provides the factors that a court shall take into consideration when making an order pertaining to spousal support. In particular, it provides that the court:
[s]hall take into consideration the condition, means, needs and other circumstances of each spouse, including
- the length of time the spouses cohabited;
- the functions performed by each spouse during cohabitation; and
- any order, agreement or arrangement relating to support of either spouse.
If either Kaley or Ryan were to make a claim for spousal support upon the breakdown of their marriage, a court may find it difficult to award spousal support considering the length of time the parties cohabited (that is if they commenced cohabitation as of the date of marriage).
Secondly, the objectives of a spousal support order are detailed in section 15.2(6) of the Divorce Act. This section of the Act provides that the support of a spouse should:
- recognize any economic advantages or disadvantages to the spouses arising from the marriage or its breakdown;
- apportion between the spouses any financial consequences arising from the care of any child of the marriage over and above any obligation for the support of any child of the marriage;
- relieve any economic hardship of the spouses arising from the breakdown of the marriage; and
- in so far as practicable, promote the economic self-sufficiency of each spouse within a reasonable period of time.
After a careful consideration of the above-mentioned objectives, Ryan or Kaley would find it difficult to make a successful claim for spousal support. Not only was the marriage of a short duration, but there is little room to make the argument that there were any economic advantages or disadvantages arising from the marriage or its breakdown, or any economic hardship caused by the breakdown of the marriage. Further, a court would wish to promote the economic self-sufficiency of each spouse, and, given the length of the marriage, may conclude that the parties ought still to be economically self-sufficient.
In short, if Kaley and Ryan were to separate, either party would find it difficult to make a successful spousal support claim in an Ontario court. Short term marriages, i.e. those lasting just a few months, often do not have the factual basis to support a spousal support claim.