This is one area of family law which has been evolving quite rapidly over the past few years. The Courts have been studying the underlying principles used to determine if a spouse has a right to claim support.
The Courts have established that the marriage, in and of itself, does not create such a right. The right is based, primarily, on the economic consequences of the relationship with respect to the spouse claiming support.
The Courts are still trying to establish sound principles to properly quantify and compensate the right to such a claim. When support is warranted, it is usually granted as monthly support payments. From the “payor’s” perspective, the questions are really: how long and how much. The spouse claiming support has a corresponding obligation to become self-sufficient as far as he / she can. These issues are not easily determined as they are fact specific.
The Federal Government is studying the prospects of establishing Guidelines for spousal support. In Ontario, the Court of Appeal has provided some general guidelines on the amount of support to be awarded by analyzing the monetary realities of a separated family from a net disposable income approach (how much money each spouse has to his/her disposal depending on various factors such as children, years of marriage etc.).
As with all other issues, the reader must understand that these notes represent but a very short summary of a complex issue. The client must be fully and properly advised by a competent lawyer.
If any lawyer is prepared to suggest and advise a client that he or she should not pay support in any given situation, that client should ask the lawyer to put his opinion in writing.