Spousal Support

Spousal Support in Victoria, BC

Spousal Support Lawyers in Victoria

Spousal Support Lawyers in Victoria, BC

Spousal support, or “alimony” as it is sometimes known, is often at the centre of divorce disputes in BC.

It is one of several issues that can prevent a divorce from taking the simple path and cause it to end up in the BC courts.

Therefore, it helps to understand the laws on spousal support in BC so that both parties are prepared for what is around the corner and can take the necessary steps to avoid conflict.

The experienced divorce lawyers at Jennings Family Law can help you and your spouse agree on a suitable spousal support arrangement in accordance with BC law or file a support claim against your ex.

What is spousal support in British Columbia?

Spousal support in BC is a financial payment made by one spouse to the other spouse after a separation, intended to allow a smoother transition to single life and self-sufficiency.

The main objectives are:

  • To address economic advantages/disadvantages faced by a spouse due to the separation
  • To reduce the financial hardship a spouse may experience
  • To encourage financial self-sufficiency within a reasonable period

Spousal support can be arranged in one of two ways in BC:

  1. By an agreement made during separation
  2. By a court order

The rules apply both to opposite- and same-sex marriages and common-law relationships (adult independent relationships). Spousal support payments are legally enforceable.

The three key elements of a spousal support arrangement are the amount due, how often it is paid, and the duration of payments.

Types of spousal support in BC

It is not quite as simple as deciding whether you are entitled to spousal support and calculating an amount. There are two main types of spousal support in BC.

Compensatory spousal support

Compensatory support is generally awarded to a spouse who has been disadvantaged financially during the marriage due to obligations related to raising the family and maintaining the home. This is especially the case in long marriages where a spouse may have put career aspirations aside to focus on raising the children.

The purpose of compensatory spousal support is to provide a similar standard of living to that experienced before the relationship breakdown. However, this is on the proviso that the other spouse can pay it.

If regular payments cannot be made in full, this type of support may include property or a “lump sum” payment.

Non-compensatory spousal support

Non-compensatory spousal support is more common in short marriages. The purpose of the support is to avoid a financial burden being placed on the public to support individuals involved in marriage breakdowns.

The financial needs of the receiving spouse are assessed, along with the means of the payor.

This type of support is generally time-limited and based upon the federal Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines, which aid in calculating the correct amount of support.

The court in BC has the discretion to select a range of support from the guidelines or decide on a different award.

What factors affect spousal support awards in BC?

A range of factors is assessed when the need for spousal support is determined. This includes the following factors for the recipient:

  • The duration of the relationship
  • The financial needs
  • If any child support is payable
  • Whether financial support is being provided in a new relationship
  • Whether they stay at home to raise children
  • Whether career sacrifices were made for the relationship
  • Responsibilities and conduct during the relationship

For the payor of spousal support, the following will be taken into account:

  • The duration of the relationship
  • The financial ability to pay support
  • Whether the payor is affected by prior support obligations
  • If any child support is payable
  • Responsibilities and conduct during the relationship
  • Whether their career benefitted from the recipient’s contributions

These are the main factors but other circumstances of both parties and the relationship as a whole may be considered if warranted.

How is spousal support calculated in BC?

If it has been determined that you are entitled to spousal support, the amount, frequency, and duration of payments must be decided. Regular monthly payments are far more common than a lump sum.

One of our spousal support lawyers can help you make spousal support calculations according to the aforementioned Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines, which provide guidance on entitlement to support and some tools for calculating approximate amounts.

Remember, however, that judicial discretion may play an important part in court-ordered spousal support.

How to enforce spousal support in BC

Spousal support orders are there to be followed. It is expected that every citizen in BC abides by the terms of court orders, and there are consequences if this is not the case.

Hopefully, it is not necessary in your case but if spousal support is not paid according to the order, you can take measures to enforce payment. These include:

  • Enforcing spousal support through a contempt of court order and fines (this could even result in jail time and extra costs for your ex-spouse)
  • Enforcing spousal support through a separation agreement: make sure you have filed your separation agreement with the Provincial Court of BC or the Supreme Court of BC and then you can file a contempt of court order
  • Enforcing support through the Family Maintenance and Enforcement Program in BC, which has the power to garnish wages, confiscate passport/driver’s licence, etc.

Unfortunately, none of these measures are straightforward or very rapid, but they can assist you in receiving the support you deserve.

Get help with spousal support in Victoria, BC

Spousal support can be highly contentious and is based upon circumstances that are specific to your case.

To arrive at an agreeable arrangement is not easy. It involves much more than punching numbers into a calculator.

At Jennings Family Law in Victoria, BC, our spousal support lawyers can help you work out an agreement with your ex – or either bring or respond to a spousal support claim.

Contact us today for a confidential consultation and case evaluation.

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