Spousal support is one of the most hotly contested and controversial issues in any divorce. If you don’t have a strong family lawyer on your side you could either end up having to pay more than you can afford, or fail to receive enough spousal support to put your life back together after your divorce.
Let the lawyers at Merchant Law help you with your major spousal support issues. We will help you safeguard your budget.
How is spousal support calculated in Manitoba?
There is no one single formula. The courts consider a wide variety of factors, including the length of time the spouses have lived together, the financial positions of both spouses, and the roles each spouse played during their marriage.
There are Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines that judges do use when they consider how much spousal support to award. These same guidelines are useful while attempting to negotiate a divorce settlement.
Who is entitled to spousal support in Manitoba?
A spouse is eligible to receive support in one of three cases. The first case is when a spouse can demonstrate that they have sacrificed their ability to earn income for the good of the marriage. The second case is related: the spouse gave up income to care for the children. The final case is the spouse has a clear financial need arising from the breakdown of the marriage.
In practical terms, spousal support most often goes to a “house spouse” who was handling the unpaid labor of managing a household and caring for children. It can also happen when there is a large disparity between one spouse’s income and the other’s. The legal theory is that both spouses contributed to the marriage and should both benefit from the assets of the marriage.
The courts also don’t want to see spouses beginning their post-marital life with one spouse experiencing a sudden drop in their standard of living while the other continues to enjoy the fruits of both spouse’s labors. The less-advantaged spouse must be given time to become self-sufficient.
Note that either spouse can ask for spousal support, but that doesn’t mean either will get it.
How long does spousal support last?
Lifetime spousal support awards are rare. Instead, the court usually awards ½ to 1 year of support for every year of marriage. This means that the recipient of spousal support may need to plan to use the time while getting the support to adjust their standard of living or to seek additional education and training which will allow them to earn more money.
On the other hand, for some divorcees receiving 30 to 40 years of support may be enough to cover the spouse for the rest of their life.
How can I get out of paying spousal support?
At times it is possible to modify a spousal support order. This happens when one or both spouses have a significant change in circumstances.
For example, if you are paying spousal support and experience a significant decrease in income then you can ask the courts to modify your order. You may also be able to end spousal support when your spouse remarries. Sometimes you can make the case that your ex is not making a “good faith effort” at becoming self-sufficient.
To do this you will have to have your lawyer make a motion for modification. You and your lawyer will have to attend a court hearing.
Why choose Merchant Law for your spousal support problem?
Work with Merchant Law and you’ll be working with some of Winnipeg’s toughest, most experienced family lawyers. We’re the lawyers that get results, and we’re here for you.