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Lorne MacLean, MacLean Family Law

Vancouver BC Spousal Support Self Sufficiency lawyers handle cases where entitlement to spousal support, the amount of spousal support and the duration the support should last are at issue. Our top-rated* Vancouver Spousal Support Self Sufficiency Lawyers are also very familiar with the duty or goal of both parties attempting to achieve or maintain self-sufficiency after separation. Click here for more information.

Vancouver BC Spousal Support Self Sufficiency 

Lorne N. MacLean, QC  explains that there are two formulas for spousal support under the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines the “with child formula” and the “without child formula” Today, we deal with a shorter marriage case involving a couple in their second relationship that started when they were in their 50’s. The wife was found to have been voluntarily unemployed both during the marriage and for 5 years after the separation preceding the wife’s support application. She argued she had health issues but produced no medical evidence supporting her claim she could not work.

The Federal Government’s Support Publication on Vancouver BC Spousal Support Self Sufficiency issues states:

The without child support formula applies to determine spousal support where the parties’ relationship has not produced children or where all children are all adult and independent. It applies whenever there is no child support obligation concurrent with the spousal support obligation.SSAG §7

Payments range from 1.5 percent (low end of the range) to 2.0 percent (high end of the range) of the difference between the parties’ gross incomes per year of cohabitation. SSAG §7.4

Spousal support will be payable for a length of time equal to 0.5 years (low end of the range) to 1.0 years (high end of the range) per year of cohabitation. SSAG §7.5

The maximum duration spousal support will be payable for is indefinite, duration not specified when:

  1. the length of cohabitation is greater than five years and the length of cohabitation plus the age of the recipient is greater than or equal to 65; or,
  2. the length of cohabitation is twenty or more years.

Vancouver BC Spousal Support Self Sufficiency 

In the BC Supreme Court case of  Swart v Redelinghuys a separated husband paid multiple times the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines recommended amounts for the high end of the SSAG duration rules. Vancouver BC Spousal Support Self Sufficiency was an issue in this case as the Court held the wife’s efforts towards achieving self-sufficiency

[25]         The authors of The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines: Revised Users’ Guide, (Ottawa, Department of Justice, 2016) (“Users’ Guide”) explain at p. 25 that the compensatory exception in short marriages recognises that the “without child” formula used in the Guidelines generates very limited awards in short marriages, even where there is significant income disparity between the parties. This is because the formula assumes that the only basis for support is non-compensatory, leading to a brief transitional award (Users’ Guide at 64). This exception is often applied in cases, like this one, where the recipient spouse moved to be with the payor spouse and gave up or compromised his or her job or career to do so, justifying an additional compensatory award. For examples of where courts either explicitly applied the exception or otherwise granted compensatory support under circumstances somewhat analogous to the case at hand, see: Volik v. Lisovska, 2011 BCSC 22; Ahn v. Ahn, 2007 BCSC 1148; Stergios v. Kim, 2011 ONCA 836; Fuller v. Matthews, 2007 BCSC 444; Beardsall v. Dubois (2009), 175 A.C.W.S. (3d) 483 (Ont. S.C.J.); R.M.S. v. F.P.C.S., 2011 BCCA 53; and Ai v. Zhu, 2010 BCSC 1107.

Vancouver BC Spousal Support Self Sufficiency – Compensatory Support

[28]         I agree with the respondent’s argument that upon the breakdown of the marriage she was entitled to some measure of compensatory support because she moved to Canada at the claimant’s suggestion and left her employment in South Africa to do so. The barrier to the success of her present claim, however, is that even by the respondent’s reckoning of the parties’ incomes, the claimant has already paid multiple times the recommended high range of support for the maximum period recommended by the Guidelines. In my view, the claimant has done all he can be reasonably asked to do to relieve any hardship arising from the parties’ joint decision to move to Vancouver Island. He has paid the respondent a substantial sum of spousal support over a period of time roughly matching the entire length of the marriage, and in my view he has discharged his obligations under compensatory principles and there is no further entitlement on that basis.

Vancouver BC Spousal Support Self Sufficiency – Non – Compensatory

[32]         In Lee v. Lee, 2014 BCCA 383, the British Columbia Court of Appeal determined that marriage alone does not “automatically entitle a spouse to the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, or as much as the payor could afford” (para. 65). At the same time, the court recognized that a “transitional” non-compensatory award was appropriate in that case because Mr. Lee experienced a decline in his standard of living due to the separation (paras. 66 and 67).

[33]         In Bracklow v. Bracklow (1999), 181 D.L.R. (4th) 522 (B.C.S.C.), the retrial of the support issue, this court acknowledged at para. 32:

[E]ven where entitlement is based on non-compensatory grounds, ongoing need and ability to pay does not automatically entitle a spouse to indefinite support. After balancing all the relevant criteria, the court must make a just and appropriate award based on the circumstances of the particular claim.

If you have a Vancouver BC Spousal Support Self Sufficiency issue and want advice call us today at 604-602-9000. We have 6 offices across BC and in Calgary to serve you.

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