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Spousal Support Lawyer: How is Spousal Support Calculated?

There are two main periods where you may need a spousal support lawyer. The first is prior to or during your divorce proceedings, to determine eligibility for spousal support and help you calculate how much support should be paid. After your divorce is finalized, you may need a spousal support lawyer to help you change or enforce a spousal support order.

The calculation of spousal support is a very complex area of family law. Due to the changing nature of many family situations, you may have to revisit your support arrangements periodically.

This article will help you understand the basics of spousal support, and how a spousal support lawyer can help you with a fair settlement in your divorce case.

What is Spousal Support?

Most people have a basic understanding of spousal support, even if they’re not aware of the details. The family law system can be confusing, so it’s helpful to have a spousal support lawyer walk you through the fundamentals.

Spousal support is money paid by one spouse to another after a separation or divorce. The money is meant to help share the costs of child care, help ensure a spouse is financially self-sufficient, and/or provide compensation if one spouse sacrificed their income during the relationship (e.g. staying at home to care for children).

In Ontario, you may be entitled to spousal support if you are separating or divorcing from a marriage or common-law relationship.

How Is It Calculated?

In Ontario, the amount of spousal support will depend on several factors, such as:

  • The difference in income between the two parties in the relationship
  • Length of the relationship (marriage or cohabitation)
  • If you have children together, who is caring for them
  • Age of the people divorcing, and their ability to support themselves
  • Mental and physical health, and earning ability of the parties separating or divorcing

The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines provide details on how support is calculated, and what support you may be entitled to, or have to pay. A spousal support lawyer/child support lawyer can guide you through the factors that may apply to support calculations in your specific case.

The guidelines are divided into support for separating/divorcing couples with or without children.

Spousal Support Calculations With Child Support

If a couple has children from their marriage or common-law relationship, the support formula prioritizes child support first, then spousal support. There are multiple starting formulas, reflecting a variety of parenting responsibility arrangements. Your spousal support lawyer can advise you on what formula applies best to your case.

  • the basic formula – where a higher-income earning parent pays support to a lower-income parent with custody or primary care of the children.
  • the shared custody formula – in cases where parents are sharing responsibilities for raising children, the aim of this formula is to leave each household with equal net disposable income.
  • the split custody and hybrid formulas – in cases where one or more children lives with each parent, support can become a little more complicated, depending on the number of children living where household income, and whether the children are moving between houses (among others). Generally, the goal is to provide somewhat equal living standards in each home.
  • the step-child formula – in cases where one parent is also supporting other children, this formula adjusts for any child-support obligation imposed on a step-parent. This may limit one parent’s ability to pay spousal support. These calculations can be complicated, and often the wrong formula is used to calculate support, so it’s important to ensure your spousal support lawyer has experience with cases involving step-children to help ensure you calculate the correct amount.
  • the custodial payor formula – in some cases, the higher-earning spouse is also the primary caregiver for the children. In these cases, the spouse caring for the children may have to pay spousal support, similar to the “without child support” guidelines.
  • the adult child formula – support in this area can also be quite complicated. This formula applies where the last child or children of the marriage have their child support fixed under s. 3(2)(b) of the Child Support Guidelines. Typically this means a child is attending college or university and still dependent on parental support or a child is disabled but has social assistance or other funding.

If this seems complex, it’s because it is. In addition to finding the right formula to cover your family situation, there can be multiple calculation tables for your circumstances. Advice from a qualified spousal support lawyer can help you navigate the complexity.

Spousal Support Calculations Without Child Support

In cases where there are no children, spousal support can be a simpler matter. But as spousal support lawyers know, it is still far from straightforward. Where there are no children in the relationship, the amount of spousal support is largely dependent on the length of the marriage or relationship.

Spousal support is calculated based on the difference between the two parties gross income amounts for each year of marriage. The amount ranges from 1.5% to 2% of that difference for shorter relationships, up to a maximum of 50% (or equalization of income) for longer marriages.

The duration of time the support needs to be provided also varies from half to one year for each year of the relationship (marriage or cohabitation) to an indefinite time for longer marriages.

Understand Your Rights and Responsibilities – Expert Family Lawyer

The family law team at the Kelly D. Jordan Family Law Firm has expertise in all areas of family law. If you are facing a separation or divorce, they can help you understand your rights and responsibilities when it comes to child and spousal support, and help you achieve the best outcome for your case. Whether you are looking to calculate your support or want help enforcing a support order, reach out to us today – we’ll help take the complexity, confusion, and overwhelm out of your support case.

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