Calculating, Varying & Ending Spousal Support – An Overview

Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines

The Federal Government has created the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAGs) as a tool for legal professionals and spouses to understand and guide the calculation of spousal support. The SSAGs are intended to convey a general framework of how to calculate spousal support and it is not legislation that has binding effect on parties seeking spousal support.  While not actual law, they are important and a helpful tool in determining the amount of spousal support.

SSAGs do not help in determining a spouse’s entitlement to spousal support. Furthermore, the SSAGs do not apply in situations where parties have already agreed to spousal support by way of a separation agreement.

The SSAGs do however assist in not only determining the amount of spousal support but also the duration of payment. There are numerous factors that are considered, but one of the most significant criteria is if there is a child of the relationship. There are separate formulas for calculating spousal support depending on whether there are children from the relationship or not. Where there are children, there are also separate formulas applicable depending on the custodial arrangement, whether the children are step-children and/or adult children.

Some other important factors the SSAGs take into account:

  • income of the parties
  • any deductions made to the parties’ incomes (e.g. taxes, EI premiums, other deductions)
  • the recipient spouse’s needs
  • the needs and ability to pay for the paying spouse,
  • how property and debts have been divided between the spouses

Using the SSAGs is a complicated procedure and unfortunately, beyond the scope of a blog post to explain! If you require assistance in reviewing the spousal support payment amount or require help with determining a fair amount you should pay/receive, contact us today for a free consultation. One of our expert family lawyers can discuss your matter with you further. You can reach us at 905-366-0202 or through our website here.

Varying and Terminating Spousal Support

 Spousal support can be varied or terminated depending on the circumstances of the spouses. If the payor has experienced a significant or material change in circumstances, then there may be an opportunity to change the spousal support amount.

A material change would be one which has affected the ability for the payor to maintain payments, and it would be a burden to continue paying at the same level. Examples of a material change can include:

  • losing a job
  • caring for a dependent like a parent or
  • obligations to a new family.

Depending on the change in circumstances, spousal support can be varied temporarily, permanently, or even terminated out-right.

How parties can vary or terminate support depends on how the spousal support obligation arose. If parties have a separation agreement, there may be built-in clauses with specific steps outlined that can vary the support if certain circumstances arise. If the material change was not contemplated or these clauses are not present, the parties may voluntarily change or enter into a new agreement with a new spousal support obligation. If parties are able to reach a resolution, they will sign the new agreement and present it to the court.

If the parties cannot agree on a suitable change to the separation agreement or if the spousal support obligation arose by court order, the payor is able to bring an application to court to amend the order, based on the material change. The courts will consider if the amount that was awarded would have changed given the payor’s new circumstances.

Tailor Law can help you understand how spousal support applies to your situation. As specialist divorce lawyers, spousal support is one of our areas of expertise and we can help you navigate through this difficult time.

If you are looking for more information or have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to discuss your matter over a free consultation. You can reach our office at 905-366-0202 or contact us through our website here.

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