The broad issues regarding spousal support have been canvassed in other video blogs. I invite you to view same prior to listening to this video blog as this blog details a specific issue within spousal support.
Let’s first talk about short term relationships or marriages with no children.
What is my spousal support obligation in a short-term relationship or marriage with no children?
Let’s set the background: you just started living with your new partner or spouse, but once the honeymoon is over, your relationship or marriage ends in separation. I am commonly asked by my clients what their spousal support obligation will be in these circumstances. The good news if you are the payor is that there may not be any spousal support obligations arising out of the relationship or its breakdown, and if there is, it will be for a short period of time. A spouse looking to receive spousal support from a short-term relationship or marriage needs to show entitlement to receive support. As you and your spouse lived together for a relatively short period of time, it will be difficult to establish entitlement where there are no children of the relationship. If there is any disparity in the income of the two spouses, and if that disparity existed at the start of cohabitation, then the disparity can be easily explained as not being a result of the relationship or marriage.
As such, it is likely that a short term relationship or marriage without children will result in no spousal support being paid, or if it is paid it will be for a very short period of time. In the cases when spousal support is to be paid from a short-term relationship or marriage, the duration of such support ranges between one year for every year you lived together and half a year for every year you lived together.
What is my spousal support obligation in a short term relationship or marriage with children?
Let’s set the background in this scenario: you also just started living with your new partner or spouse, and shortly thereafter you have a child together, but again, once the honeymoon is over your relationship or marriage ends in separation. My clients commonly expect their spousal support obligation or receipt of spousal support to be similar to the scenario wherein there are no children in the relationship or marriage. In certain circumstances this may be true, but in others this may not be the case as it is dependent on the unique circumstances surrounding your relationship.
The spouse seeking spousal support must establish entitlement. However, the difference in this scenario is that the payor spouse is also paying child support and, as such, a different formula for the calculation of spousal support must be applied. This can result in a different determination for the period of time in which spousal support is payable. Although the length of the period of cohabitation is still relevant, we must also consider the age of the youngest child at the time of separation. That is, in certain circumstances, spousal support may be payable until the youngest child either enters full-time school or completes high school.
This formula, often referred to as the “with children” formula will result in spousal support being paid for a period of time much longer than the length of your relationship or marriage. The rationale supporting this alternative formula is that the parent of a young child may suffer some difficulty in the job market from having the responsibilities of caring for that young child, such as getting that child to and from daycare.
What can you do next?
If you or your former partner are seeking spousal support in either of the above scenarios, it is important to consult a family law lawyer so that you may understand your rights and obligations arising out of your relationship and its breakdown. It is important to recognize that when you choose to have a child with someone, you will be forever linked to that person. If you are not going to stay with that person, you may have long-term financial obligations arising out of the relationship, whether you like it or not.
Thank you for watching today. If you need more information regarding spousal support, please feel free to visit our website at www.separation.ca or call us at 905-415-1636 to schedule a consultation.