Ensuring Fair Spousal Support Payments
Alimony lawyers in Alberta help clients secure payments to support a party to marriage or relationship when that relationship ends. People refer to these payments by a variety of names including alimony, partner support and spousal support. The challenge is always to determine if a party is entitled to support and if so, what amount of support and how long the support will be paid. Determination of the this issue is one of the most complex and polarizing issues in family law today. The separation and divorce lawyers at Kahane Law Office regularly help clients with these matters.
Purpose Of Alimony Payments
The law developed through the years supports that alimony payments help one of the parties to the relationship for several reasons. These reasons include, for example, an effort by the courts to:
- Balance the financial advantages of the marriage and the breakdown of the marriage;
- Apportion the financial disadvantages of the marriage and its breakdown;
- Further assist in addressing child support finances beyond the amount allocated under the child support guidelines;
- Encourage both spouses to move forward to reach financial independence, as much as they can, after the breakdown of the relationship.
What Support Payments Are Not
Alimony payments exists to accomplish the specific objectives as set out above. The purpose of the law, in these circumstances, excludes any objective to punish one of the spouses. A person’s behavior in the marriage, for example, if they cheated or were not supportive, does not form part of the objectives of alimony payments. Infidelity is irrelevant when determining the issue of support payments.
Further, support payments for a different allocation of funds and / or payments than those determined in the splitting of matrimonial assets and matrimonial debts.
Factors To Determine Alimony Payments
The reason why all separating or divorcing clients require legal assistance from a divorce lawyer is that there are a wide range of factors that determine alimony payments. This is one of the most complex legal issues that family law lawyers have to assist clients with. The following list is not exhaustive, however the following are, for example, some of the factors considered:
- Monetary needs of the recipient and payor;
- Ability of one spouse to pay support payments;
- How long the marriage or relationship lasted;
- Lost income or professional advancement due to raising children;
- Child support payments;
- Other support obligations to previous relationships;
- Ability of each party to earn income;
- Financial needs of each party;
- Matrimonial debt that a payor may be taking on post-separation;
- A party’s level of support from any new relationship; and lastly
- Contributions and conduct to the relationship during the relationship.
Other Factors That Impact Alimony
A few other factors come into play when the courts determine Alimony payments. These include factors such as marriage or relationship contracts, a party having suffered economic consequences that directly benefited the other party, and the degree of financial struggle one party experiences compared to the other.
Fair Alimony Payments
In recent years, alimony lawyers started using Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAGs). The guidelines act as a starting point in determining fair support payments. The factors looked at in the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines include the above noted factors. In addition, other factors become relevant when factors are not ordinary in the marital situation.
Non-ordinary factors to consider include many potential relationship issues. However, the following are, for example, the types of factors that come into play:
- Self-employed individuals: Self-employed individuals often receive income other than salary or wage. The court looks at these amounts.
- Very long relationships: A very long relationship often leads to higher payments and payments for much longer.
- Unaccounted for assets and income: Often a party to a relationship fails to disclose all their assets or income. For example, a spouse living in a home with high mortgage payments but no declared income.
Types of Payments
Alimony payments generally fall into three category of payments. These categories include:
Monthly payments make up the majority of support payments. In these situations, one party makes payment to the other one a set day each and every month. These payments continue for as long as required by agreement or court order. These payments are taxed as income by the CRA for the recipient and the payor receives a tax deduction from CRA.
In some instances, both parties prefer a lump sum payment. This occurs when there is a risk of non-payment or instability or when both parties want to have the issues finalized between them with no future legal involvement.. These lump sum payments equate to a lower total amount as the receiving spouse has use of the money from the date received. These payments are tax free transfers between the parties.
Lastly, in some situations the parties agree, or the court orders a combination of lump sum payments and then lower monthly payments.
Other Things To Consider
Some other factors exist for the parties’ consideration. Firstly, declaring personal or corporate bankruptcy does not extinguish the requirements to make alimony payments. Secondly, parties should consider all tax consequences of support payments. Often alimony lawyers work with a party’s accountant to ensure proper tax considerations.
Making Changes To Alimony Payments
The court and the law recognize that stations change. If one party experiences a significant change in income, ability to earn or expenses, the parties may renegotiate the payments or apply to the courts for a variation of an existing order. The courts look down on intentional attempts to sabotage income. They attribute more weight to medical or work place factors. Our lawyers help change regular support payments when fair and equitable to do so.
Hiring Alimony Payment Lawyers In Alberta
If you need help establishing payments, collecting payments, re-negotiating payments or even just want a consultation to learn about your rights, obligations and legal position, call us. Our family lawyers help clients in Alberta to protect themselves and their family. Email us today to see how we help at email us directly here. Alternatively, reach us toll-free at 1-877-225-8817, or 403-225-8810 locally in Calgary, Alberta.