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Best Uncontested Divorce Lawyers Tips

Vancouver short marriage duration spousal support cases are complicated. We are asked frequently ” How long do I have to pay spousal support for in BC?” There are two formulas for spousal support in Canada that significantly affect Vancouver short marriage duration spousal support. Our senior and experienced lawyers know there is a significant difference between the amount and duration of spousal support between a marriage without children compared to one where children are born to the couple. Vancouver short marriage duration spousal support cases can be particularly stressful as there are significant child care and financial responsibilities. Hire a skilled lawyer who deals with the “with child” spousal support formula on a daily basis to prevent mistakes. Vancouver short marriage duration spousal support involves a thorough analysis of a number of factors related to economic advantage and disadvantage from the marriage or relationship, the amount and how long it should be paid.

Vancouver Short Marriage Duration Spousal Support Call 1 877 602 9900

Today’s blog by Lorne N MacLean, QC deals with how long spousal support should be paid after a short marriage involving the birth of a young child at the date of separation. Because the with child formula gives the custodial parent and child over 50% of the couple’s take-home pay when one spouse is the sole breadwinner, the financial stakes and consequences are huge.  Hiring a lawyer who deals daily with Vancouver Short marriage duration spousal support cases just makes good common sense. The upper payment time limit for Vancouver Short marriage duration spousal support cases can be the graduation from high school for the youngest child. The lower time limit is the greater of half the length of the relationship or the year the youngest child starts full-time school.

With Child Duration Spousal Support Rules:

Here are the simple rules explained more fully in this length:

The low end of the spousal support duration range tests are:

  1. 0.5 years per year of cohabitation
  2. the length of time until the youngest child enters full-time school

The high end of the range tests are:

  1. 1.0 years per year of cohabitation
  2. the length of time until the last or youngest child finishes school

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.

In longer marriages, a spouse may have suffered significant past economic disadvantage because of giving up a career to raise children and be a homemaker. In short marriages, the economic disadvantage is all in the future and not the past as career opportunities may need to be forgone as a result of a disproportionate sharing of childcare responsibilities after separation. The duration for support when a child is born is often much longer in short marriages with children than without. Vancouver short marriage duration spousal support cases involve the court considering economic disadvantage faced by the primary parent moving forward in terms of how it affects their ability to retrain to advance their career and to work longer hours to get ahead in today’s competitive society.

In the leading case of Duscharme and Rempel the BC Court of Appeal dealt with a 2-year relationship and a 1-year-old child where the Vancouver short marriage duration spousal support was ordered to last almost 7 years. The husband payor appealed the Vancouver short marriage duration spousal support decision.

The Court of Appeal reviewed a number of Vancouver short marriage duration spousal support cases and upheld the judge’s decision from the trial both on the start date for support and  for how long the father had to pay spousal support under the “with child formula”.

Appeal Decision Explains How Long Spousal Support Is Payable

The BC Appeal Court, which is our highest court in BC, decided:

[45]         The next main issue on appeal relates to the duration of spousal support. Mr. Rempel argues that the trial judge erred in terminating spousal support as of March 31, 2015, seven years after the parties separated. He submits the level of support he paid from the date of separation to trial not only met but exceeded his obligations at law to provide spousal support to Ms. Ducharme.

[46]         In the circumstances of this case, the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (“SSAG”) provide a range of support of between 5 and 17 years. That range reflects at one end, the year in which the parties’ daughter would first attend school full-time and at the other end, her graduation from high school. While recognizing that the SSAG provide for a wide range of possible outcomes in terms of duration of support in cases involving short marriages with very young children, Mr. Rempel submits that, in general, support orders made in similar circumstances fall at or below the minimum duration suggested by the SSAG.

[47]         In Knezevich v. Curtis, 2013 BCSC 432, the Court dealt with a relationship of three-and-a-half years’ duration, with a child born one month before the relationship’s end. The Court set the duration of spousal support at the minimum suggested by the SSAGMerriman v. Merriman, 2012 BCSC 460, considered a relationship of just over three years’ duration, with a child born one year before separation. The Court again set the duration of spousal support at the minimum suggested by the SSAG, i.e., until the child entered full-time school. In S.R. v. B.E., 2011 BCSC 1586, the Court dealt with a relationship of four-and-a-half years’ duration, with a child born three years before separation. The Court set the duration of spousal support at three years, and at an amount below the low range suggested by the SSAG.

[48]         Mr. Rempel submits the trial judge failed to consider the unusual circumstances raised by a case involving a very short marriage and a young child, which in turn caused her to set a duration of support “well above the minimum” suggested by the SSAG.

[49]         I would not accede to this submission. The trial judge found Ms. Ducharme was entitled to spousal support based on both financial need and the compensatory model of support. Compensatory support is intended to provide redress to the recipient spouse for economic disadvantage arising from the marriage or the conferral of an economic advantage upon the other spouse: Chutter v. Chutter, 2008 BCCA 507 at paras. 50 and 51:

[50]      … The compensatory basis for relief recognizes that sacrifices made by a recipient spouse in assuming primary childcare and household responsibilities often result in a lower earning potential and fewer future prospects of financial success (Moge, at 861-863; Bracklow, at para. 39). In Moge, the Supreme Court of Canada observed, at 867-868:

The most significant economic consequence of marriage or marriage breakdown, however, usually arises from the birth of children. This generally requires that the wife cut back on her paid labour force participation in order to care for the children, an arrangement which jeopardizes her ability to ensure her own income security and independent economic well‑being. In such situations, spousal support may be a way to compensate such economic disadvantage.

[51]      In addition to acknowledging economic disadvantages suffered by a spouse as a consequence of the marriage or its breakdown, compensatory spousal support may also address economic advantages enjoyed by the other partner as a result of the recipient spouse’s efforts. As noted in Moge at 864, the doctrine of equitable sharing of the economic consequences of marriage and marriage breakdown underlying compensatory support “seeks to recognize and account for both the economic disadvantages incurred by the spouse who makes such sacrifices and the economic advantages conferred upon the other spouse. [Emphasis added.]

[50]         Need alone may be sufficient to ground a claim for spousal support. Ms. Ducharme left high school part way through grade 12 and had a work history involving primarily unskilled and relatively low-paying jobs. Non-compensatory support is grounded in the social obligation model of marriage in which marriage is seen as an interdependent union. It is based on the idea that when a marriage dissolves, the primary burden of meeting the needs of the other spouse falls on his or her former partner, rather than the state: Bracklow v. Bracklow, [1999] 1 S.C.R. 420 at para. 23.

[51]         In considering the issue of Ms. Ducharme’s entitlement to spousal support and its duration, the trial judge expressly considered the range of duration and quantum provided by the SSAG where there is a short marriage with a young child on separation. She said:

[32]      The parties’ relationship was a short one. However, I conclude that the claimant has been economically disadvantaged in her pursuit of self-sufficiency given her primary childcare responsibilities as somewhat exacerbated by the respondent’s work schedule which makes his parenting schedule uncertain and unpredictable. The claimant has no skills or training at the present time to pursue employment that would involve conventional Monday to Friday daytime employment which has made obtaining traditional childcare difficult, particularly when coupled with her financial pressures.

[33]      I find that her spousal support entitlement, then, based on her financial need, her need for retraining, her childcare responsibilities, and the compensatory model, would fall in the mid to longer range of duration and quantum on the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines. However, that the relationship was short significantly offsets that.

[Emphasis added.]

[52]         The SSAG provide that in the absence of exceptional circumstances, a short relationship that results in no children will result in a short duration of support because the economic disadvantage arising from the relationship can be ameliorated in that period. The SSAG expressly recognize, however, that the economic disadvantages are not so easily addressed in the circumstances of a short relationship that results in the birth of a child.

[53]         In the present case the parties’ daughter was only 12 months old when the relationship ended. As I have already noted, the SSAG provide for duration of support of between 5 and 17 years in these circumstances. The order made by the trial judge resulted in spousal support being paid from July 2008 to March 2015, approximately 6 3/4 years after separation. That is on the low end of the range for duration and in my view cannot be regarded as either an error in principle or clearly wrong.

[54]         It is for these reasons that I would dismiss the appeal with costs to the respondent. The appellant continues to be at liberty to appear before the trial judge to address the manner in which the award of support is to be paid.

Vancouver Short Marriage Duration Spousal Support disputes need a deft and skilled hand to ensure all the considerations related to amount and duration are properly considered. Call us across BC and in Calgary toll-free at 1-877-602-9900.