Jolie v Pitt: Is the Length of the Relationship Relevant to Support?

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are still in court addressing the breakdown of their marriage. The issue of support had not been raised in any for until last week when Angelina asked for a formal child support agreement.

Over the past two years, Brad has paid Angelina $1.3 million in support. It is unknown whether this amount is for spousal support or child support. They married in 2014 and split in 2016, however, their relationship began way back in 2004. The length of their relationship may impact any spousal support that Angelina receives, however it would not impact child support.

In Ontario, the courts will look to the Child Support Guidelines to determine the quantum and duration of child support. These guidelines consider the ages of the children, the number of children, their needs, and the income of each parent. In spite of these guidelines, the best interests of the child will always be held paramount, and in cases that warrant it, judges will depart from the suggested table amount. The length of the marriage or relationship does not impact the amount of child support someone receives.

The length of the relationship does impact equalization and spousal support. Equalization is a division of wealth accumulated during the marriage so that no one is seemingly disadvantaged by the marriage. The date of marriage and separation are very important to determining what wealth is considered “wealth accumulated during the marriage.” Equalization is only available to married couples.

Spousal support, on the other hand, is available to both married and unmarried couples where it can be shown that there is both a need by one spouse and/or that one spouse is entitled to compensation for sacrifices made during the marriage. For example, if one spouse stayed home to raise children so that the other could work to support the family, they will likely have a stronger claim for spousal support. The longer the relationship, the longer the payor will likely be ordered to pay support.

It will be interesting to see what the $1.3 million was paid towards and whether Angelina ends up receiving spousal support from Brad.

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