Vancouver Family Lawyers Providing Reputable Advice on Support Payments
The breakdown of a marriage or common-law relationship triggers certain support obligations and entitlements between spouses. Determining the applicability of spousal and child support payments requires an in-depth knowledge of federal and provincial family laws, as well as a thorough review of the family dynamic both during and after separation.
Meridian Law Group navigates clients through the complexities of support issues by providing comprehensive and knowledgeable advice and legal solutions. With an authoritative presence in any legal forum, including mediation, arbitration, or the courtroom, the firm advocates for clients’ rights and the needs of their families.
All parents have a legal duty to support their children, whether they were married, common-law partners, or were never in a relationship at all. While child support payments are provided from one parent (the payor) to the other (the recipient), the right to child support belongs solely to the child.
The Federal Child Support Guidelines govern child support in British Columbia. Generally, the recipient parent is the parent who has the child in their care for the most time. When the child spends an equal amount of time with both parents, the payor is usually the parent with the highest income.
Table Amounts for Child Support Calculations
Most child support calculations are based on the tables under the Federal Child Support Guidelines (hence, they are often referred to as the “table amounts”). Each province and territory in Canada has its own table. The table amounts consider the payor spouse’s income and how many children they must support.
In addition to the table amount of child support, payor spouses may also be responsible for “special expenses”, also known as “extraordinary” or “section 7” expenses as they fall within section 7 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines.
Special expenses do not follow a formula and are intended to cover costs associated with a child’s needs, activities, and lifestyle. These can include:
- Daycare costs;
- Health insurance premiums;
- Medical expenses not covered by other insurance (e.g. eyeglasses, psychotherapy, or orthodontics);
- Educational needs (e.g. tutoring or school fees); and
- Extracurricular expenses (e.g. equipment or classes for sports, music, art, or other activities).
While parents are generally required to support their children until the age of 18, they may be responsible for some special expenses even when their child is an adult. The most common examples are costs associated with post-secondary education, including tuition, textbooks, and housing.
Spousal support balances the financial impact of a separation or divorce between both spouses or common-law partners by recognizing each spouse’s contributions to the relationship. It also helps spouses become financially independent as they move forward with their lives.
Types of Spousal Support
There are two types of spousal support that a spouse may claim post-separation:
- Compensatory Support: The spouse’s role in the relationship prevented them from earning income or developing a career. This is often the case where a spouse has stayed home to raise the couple’s children or supported the earning spouse as they developed their own business or career.
- Non-Compensatory Support: The breakdown of the relationship has disproportionately affected the recipient spouse, who needs financial assistance from the financially-dependent spouse.
Spouses may also enter into a domestic agreement that sets out a spouse’s entitlement to spousal support upon the breakdown of the relationship.
Determining the Amount & Duration of Spousal Support Payments
Judges and family lawyers often refer to the federal Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines when determining the amount and duration of spousal support. These guidelines suggest a reasonable range of spousal support based on several factors, including:
- How long the couple was together;
- Their roles and responsibilities during the relationship;
- Which spouse is primarily responsible for caring for the couple’s children;
- The difference between the spouse’s incomes;
- The spouses’ ages;
- The mental and physical health of each spouse; and
- The recipient spouses’ level of financial self-sufficiency and payor spouse’s financial means.
Unlike the Federal Child Support Guidelines, the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines are not law. However, some case law suggests that courts may set aside spousal support orders where the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines were not considered.
The Importance of Financial Disclosure
An agreement or order for child or spousal support is only valid if based on full and honest financial disclosure between the spouses. A court may set aside a support order or agreement if it finds that a spouse failed to provide accurate financial disclosure.
In family law proceedings, spouses have an ongoing duty to provide complete, up-to-date information about their finances to ensure support arrangements remain fair and equitable. Additionally, financial disclosure alerts spouses to any circumstances requiring a variation of the amount or duration of support payments (for example, a spouse’s employment status changes or a child’s needs shift as they grow older).
Contact Meridian Law Group for Comprehensive Representation in Support Matters
As an established presence in British Columbia’s family law community, Meridian Law Group provides clients with reputable and robust advice in spousal and child support matters. The firm empowers clients to make informed decisions about their support issues by developing proactive, dependable legal solutions. The family lawyers of Meridian Law Group are exceptional advocates and are a commanding presence in any forum, including mediation, arbitration, and trial.
Meridian Law Group is prominently located in downtown Vancouver and has a reputation for consistently exceeding client expectations. The firm serves clients in Vancouver, throughout British Columbia and Canada, and internationally. To discuss your family law matter or schedule a confidential consultation, please reach out online or call (604) 687-2277.