Experience & Understanding
Spousal support is sometimes referred to using the outdated (but more popular) terminology: alimony. Spousal support refers to support payments that are made from one spouse to another in the event of a divorce. Most often, these are payments made from the spouse with higher earnings to the spouse with lower earnings.
The Department of Justice in Canada has created a set of documents called the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines. It’s a free calculation tool that is intended to assist in the quantification of support. It’s certainly a helpful tool, but it should be viewed only as a single component used to begin a larger calculation, rather than a complete solution. The Guidelines are simply that: a guideline, rather than a set of binding laws governing spousal support. While the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines seem fairly straightforward, there are a number of additional factors that should be consider which may affect the amount of support awarded. A cookie-cutter solution is not right for everyone.
The first step when entering into divorce proceedings, especially where negotiations over spousal support are likely to occur is to contact an experienced lawyer specializing in family law. Jason P. Howie is Certified as a Specialist in Family Law by the Law Society of Upper Canada and has been practicing family law in Windsor and Essex County for over 25 years. Jason has seen enough to know that each case must be treated differently, and that no single solution will work in every situation or negotiation. Jason will customize an approach to meet the specific needs of the client.
The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines are meant to provide a tool to facilitate spousal support calculations, and as such they serve as an excellent starting point, but there is a great deal more to consider when negotiating an amount. Spousal support is more complex, and usually more emotional, than a tax return, so it stands to reason that a more comprehensive solution is required. A single form or guideline simply won’t cut it.
Some of the factors to consider when determining spousal support include:
These are important factors to consider, because they can help to define not only the value of support, but looking closely at these factors can actually determine if a spouse is actually entitled to receive support. It takes the guidance of a knowledgeable family lawyer like Jason P. Howie to find a satisfactory solution to what is often a complex and emotional negotiation.
There are still more factors to consider. It’s important to consider things like the duration of payment and how long payments will be required. Unless otherwise considered, the assumption is that support is indefinite. But what if conditions change? Will payments change if the spouse receiving support is remarried? Will payments change if the spouse making payments suffers a loss of income or employment? One might assume that payments would cease if the spouse making payments ever found themselves out of work, but this isn’t necessarily the case, and it certainly isn’t the default. Will payments continue into retirement and impact a fixed income? These are important questions to ask, and an experienced family law lawyer like Jason Howie can provide the answers.
A review order allows for spouses to re-examine, and potentially re-negotiate their support arrangement. It can be useful, and is usually ordered when there is the expectation of financial change to one or both parties. This tends to be applied when one spouse moves towards self-sufficiency, such as through the pursuit of training or a degree. A review order offers no guarantee that any changes in payment will be applied, but at the very least, it does offer the opportunity to renegotiate.
To speak with an experienced Windsor family law lawyer about divorce and/or spousal support, call 519-973-1500 or contact us online. We serve clients in Windsor, Essex County and throughout the region.
Jason P. Howie, Professional Corporation
420 Devonshire Road
Windsor, ON N8Y 4T6
Serves clients in Windsor, Leamington, Tecumseh, Essex, Chatham-Kent, and throughout South Western Ontario.