The topic of spousal support can be polarizing. It’s stressful. The person who is likely to end up paying doesn’t want to be obligated to pay too much. The person who is likely to become the payee fears receiving too little.
Our team of Surrey family lawyers can help you navigate the complexities of negotiating a spousal support settlement. We can also help modify existing settlements when your life circumstances change.
How long do you have to pay spousal support in British Columbia?
If your ex is eligible to receive spousal support at all then the formula for the length of payment is actually very simple. For the most part, it will last six months to one year for every year you were married. Lifelong spousal support is very rare.
Lifelong spousal support usually only happens when you’ve been married for decades, you and your spouse are in or nearing your retirement years. In those cases your spouse is unlikely to be successful at launching a career or supporting themselves, especially if they served as the “house spouse” or often it may be a “stay at home mother” over the course of many years. Particularly where the other spouse was able to advance in career and salary while the stay at home parent has become essentially un-hireable after so many years spent in the home and without any training or workplace experience.
Note that the length of spousal support is negotiable. It’s possible to put together a livable settlement that has an end date. For most divorcing couples, the goal will be to somewhat equalize the standard of living between the two spouses long enough for the disadvantaged spouse to start over and get back on their feet. The settlement can be put together with that sentiment in mind.
How is alimony calculated in BC?
BC uses the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAG). There is one formula for people who are paying child support and one formula who isn’t. If there are no children, the amount will range from 1.5 to 2% of the difference between each spouse’s gross income for each year of marriage up to a maximum of 50%.
When there are children and child support is being paid, courts use a complex computer program to make the calculation, one that takes the net disposable income of each spouse into account. It also includes several other considerations.
Is spousal support tax deductible in BC?
The spouse who receives the payments must report the tax payments as income. The spouse who makes the payment can deduct that payment from their taxes. Incorporating this fact into your financial planning can help you as you work with your lawyers to structure your support settlement.
Due to tax concerns and the desire to avoid ongoing monthly payments, it is sometimes desirable to structure a spousal support payment as a lump sum. As long as you are still in settlement negotiations and are not going to court this is a negotiable option that you and your lawyer might want to discuss.
Why Merchant Law?
Most of our family law lawyers have 30+ years of experience in the family law arena. Anthony Merchant, Q.C., has been published in prestigious family law journal and has overseen hundreds of cases.
Our Surrey team has the know-how to help you. Call (604) 609-7777 to speak to a lawyer today.