Spouse Support Under Alberta Law
Spouse support is also referred to as alimony or spousal support. If you are part of a marriage or partnership that is ending, you may be wondering how spousal or partner support (which will be referred to jointly as spousal support moving forward) will affect your future. Are you entitled to this support? Will you be required to pay this support? The answers to these questions are important, and can have a major impact on your financial well being. Please keep in mind that spousal support, spouse support and alimony are all different terms to describe the same thing. The family law lawyers at Kahane Law Office can help 403-225-8810.
This overview of spousal support in Alberta is drawn from information provided by the Alberta Courts, and is not meant to be used as legal advice for your divorce case. These are generalities about the law. Each individual case can differ significantly, and you should contact an Alberta family lawyer to receive personalized guidance for your divorce.
Who Can Apply for Spousal Support in Alberta?
Couples who are applying for divorce, and sometimes couples who are already divorced, can apply for spouse support. The court may also order that support be paid if the couple is ending an Adult Interdependent Relationship.
This is an interdependent relationship that has lasted for three years, or one in which the couple has a child together. A childless couple that has been together for less than three years could have this legal status if they signed an Adult Interdependent Partnership agreement.
What is the Intended Purpose of Spouse Support?
When ordering spousal support in Alberta, the courts will apply either the Divorce Act, which is a federal Act, or the Family Law Act, which is specific to Alberta. The objectives of each act are similar, and include:
- Identifying financial advantages and disadvantages faced by the spouses that occur because of the end of the marriage or partnership
- Fairly dividing financial costs relating to child care, above and beyond child support
- Providing as much support as possible to help each spouse to become financially independent within a reasonable amount of time
These Acts state that spousal support should not be a factor in awarding spousal support. The payment of support is not intended to be a form of punishment.
What Factors Determine the Need for Spousal Support?
When the courts are determining if spousal support should be ordered, they take into account:
- The amount of time the couple lived together
- The responsibilities of each partner during this time
- Any previous agreements or arrangements that have been made regarding support
The above factors are taken into account in all cases. If the couple is not applying for spousal support as part of a divorce, such as when applying after the end of an Adult Interdependent Relationship, the Family Law Act of Alberta will apply. In that case, the following additional factors will be taken into consideration:
- Whether or not either partner has a legal obligation to support another person, including children
- If either partner is going to be living with someone else, and how this other person contributes to their living expenses. The court looks at how this arrangement increases the partner’s ability to pay support, or decreases their need for spouse support.
Both the Divorce Act and the Family Law Act give child support a higher priority than spousal support. If a spouse cannot afford to pay both, it is the spousal support amount that will be decreased. At teh same time, child support is not a replacement for spouse support.
The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines
The Alberta Courts often use the Spousal Support Guidelines to determine how much support will be paid by taking into consideration the gross income of each spouse, the number of years the couple lived together, and any childcare expenses. These are simply advisory guidelines, however, and judges are not required to follow them. This is another reason why it is beneficial to have the counsel and representation of an Alberta divorce lawyer during this process.
We also have free family law information links here.
Our Calgary Spousal Support Lawyers Help
As a firm we pride ourselves on exceptional service. That is easy to say and more difficult to prove. In 2013 we were recognized by the Top Choice Awards as the Top Family Law Firm of 2013 in Calgary.
To schedule a appointment with one of our spouse support (or Alimony) lawyers to discuss your entitlements and obligations, please contact our experienced team at Kahane Law Office. You can reach us toll-free at 1-877-225-8817, or 403-225-8810 locally in Calgary, Alberta or email us directly here.