Whenever a couple separates, the process of untangling their financial affairs can be long and sometimes complex. There are usually several legal issues that need to be resolved, including the matter of alimony. Here is an overview of everything you need to know.
What is alimony?
Often referred to as spousal support, alimony is the money paid from one spouse or common-law partner to the other following a divorce or separation.
How is eligibility for alimony determined?
When a couple separates, either partner may request spousal support under Canada’s federal Divorce Act. Canada has a no-fault divorce law, which means the reasons the relationship ended does not affect a spouse's legal obligation to support the other spouse following a separation/divorce. The goal of alimony is to alleviate any economic losses that may have resulted from the breakdown of the relationship.
How is alimony calculated?
Unlike child support, there are no legislated guidelines to determine the amount of alimony that must be paid. Instead, the court systems use what is called the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAGs). These guidelines are based on a formula that takes into account a variety of factors, including how long the couple lived together, the financial means of each partner, the roles each partner had during the relationship and if the couple had children together.
How long does alimony have to be paid?
In general, spousal support payments last between six months and one year for every year of marriage. However, if the couple was married for a long time, spousal support might not have an end date. The judge may also require that the spouse who receives alimony become self-supporting after a certain amount of time. For example, when a former dependant spouse gets a job or receives a raise or promotion, spousal support may no longer be justified.
Alimony can be a confusing and complicated part of family law to navigate. As such, it is best to consult a qualified lawyer to ensure you have considered every angle and fully understand your rights and obligations.
Experienced family lawyers in Newfoundland
If you are going through a divorce or separation, the professional lawyers at Gittens & Associates Newfoundland can provide you with legal advice and representation. We specialize in family law cases, including those involving child custody. We can also help you draft a separation agreement and will advocate on your behalf. Contact us today to schedule a free telephone consultation.