What is Spousal Support?
Spousal support, sometimes referred to as alimony, are payments made by one spouse (generally the higher income earner) to the other spouse, under a separation agreement or divorce order. The purpose of spousal support is to help the economically disadvantaged spouse continue to maintain a similar standard of living as that enjoyed during the relationship. The duration of the relationship, the role of the parties, and the age of the recipient spouse upon separation are all factors which play into the amount and duration of the award, if entitlement is proven.
Entitlement to Spousal Support
Just because you were married or in a common law relationship does not necessarily guarantee a right or entitlement to spousal support. Spousal support is not meant as a punishment for bad behavior duration a relationship, nor is is a reward for having tolerated your ex during your relationship. An award of spousal support is discretionary and the recipient spouse must first establish entitlement to the award. Entitlement will largely depend on the role the parties took during the relationship and relieving any economic disadvantage resulting to one party due to that role.
Considerations in Spousal Support Awards
British Columbia courts will look to the following factors when determining entitlement, duration and amount of any spousal support awards:
- length of the marriage
- relative earnings and estimate earning capacity of each spouse,
- physical, mental and emotional conditions of each spouse.
Temporary or Interim Spousal Support
You may be left wondering how to pay your bills or buy groceries in the months and weeks following separation, especially if your role in the relationship was primarily as a stay-at-home parent. Temporary or interim spousal support orders are just that – interim orders based on rough justice to help you make ends meet until you receive a final order.
Spousal Support Termination and Modifications
If there is a major change in the financial situation of either party, the court can order a modification or termination of a spousal support order. This may be the case when the circumstances of either party have changed since the original order, such as one party suffering financial difficulties or the other spouse no longer requiring the same level of support.