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SSAG Spousal Support Rules Factors Exceptions

SSAG Spousal Support Rules, Factors, and Exceptions are complex and hundreds, thousands and sometimes even millions of dollars over time can rest on whether or not correct calculations are made in settlements or in front of a judge. Peter Graburn created today’s blog to ensure you make the best decisions on what the correct amount of spousal support is and whether it should be paid at all and if so for how long. Our top-rated spousal support lawyers have set records in BC and Alberta for spousal support.

BC SSAG Spousal Support Rules Factors Exceptions 1 877 602 9900

Spousal support can be a difficult issue for separating partners – payors of spousal support may think they are paying too much; recipients may feel they are not receiving enough. So how do you determine what amount of spousal support is correct? In a previous article, we discussed the main principles regarding spousal support, including:

  • Entitlement – the right to receive spousal support on contractual, non-compensatory or compensatory grounds;
  • Quantum – how much spousal support should be paid;
  • Duration – how long spousal support should be paid, and;
  • Form – how spousal support is paid (ie. monthly or lump-sum payments, etc.).

But once entitlement to spousal support is established, how do you determine the amount (quantum) and how long (duration) spousal support should be paid? Click here to see the revised user guide to the SSAG guidelines.

Alberta SSAG Spousal Support Rules Factors Exceptions 1 877 602 9900

One way to determine spousal support is to use the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAGs). The SSAGs are truly guidelines [unlike the federal or provincial Child Support Guidelines (CSGs), that are law] which use 2 mathematical formulas (either the “With Child Support” or “Without Child Support” formulas) to determine a range (low – mid-high) of both quantum and duration of spousal support. The SSAGs use the ranges for both quantum and duration of spousal support (ie. more for shorter, less for longer) to try to fairly share (as close as possible) the total disposable income of both spouses for a reasonable period of time, rather than looking at the individual needs and ability to pay of each party (ie. by looking at each party’s budgets). Longer marriages may well end up close to equally dividing the parties’ combined incomes under either formula. Big differences exist in the amount and duration between short childless marriages and short marriages when children are born of the relationship.

But the SSAGs are not as straightforward and user-friendly as the CSGs, and one must be careful to look at the following considerations when using the SSAGs:

  1. Rules – specific rules in applying the SSAGs;
  2. Factors – to determine where on the range (low – mid-high) to award spousal support, and;
  3. Exceptions – departures from the ranges in particular circumstances

Each of these considerations regarding the SSAGs is very detailed and involves other considerations such as SSAG Spousal Support Rules Factors and Exceptions. In subsequent articles in this series, we will look at the considerations of the factors and exceptions for the SSAGs. In this article, we look at the first consideration: the rules to be considered under the SSAGs.

Best Spousal Support and Alimony Lawyers Tips 1 877 602 9900

There are several rules which apply to both the quantum and duration of spousal support under the SSAGs, including:

  • Ceilings and Floors – this applies to quantum (how much). The SSAGs are based on both parties’ gross (before-tax) annual income (as set out in Line 150 of their income tax returns), but there are both maximum and minimum incomes of the payor outside of which the SSAGs do not apply. The “floor” amount is $20,000.00, below which the payor cannot really pay spousal support. The “ceiling” amount is $350,000.00, after which the SSAG general formulas no longer apply and the situation must be looked at on an “individualized, fact-specific analysis”, using either the:
  • “Minimum Plus approach – use the SSAGs to establish a minimum amount of        support (ie. the low end of the SSAGs) and then top-up the support if necessary based on need (see Halliwell v. Halliwell, 2017 ONCA 349), or;
  • “Pure Discretion” approach – do not use the SSAGs at all and determine          support based solely on the individual’s needs and ability to pay (but see      Hathaway v. Hathaway, 2014 BCCA 310, which held that the Court must still consider the SSAGs and give reasons why it departed from them);
  • Rule of 65 – this applies to duration (how long). If the spouses have been together for more than 20 years, or if the age of the recipient of support plus the length of the relationship (of more than 5 years) equals 65, the length of the payment of spousal support will be indefinite (but not forever);
  • Mandatory Deductions – this applies to both quantum (amount) and duration (how long). As indicated above, the SSAGs attempt to equalize the total (net) disposable incomes of the spouses. But while the (more complex) “With Child Support” formula uses Individual Net Disposable Income (INDI) calculations (adjusting for taxes and certain standardized deductions and government benefits) of both the payor and recipient in their calculations, this formula does not take into account (ie. further deduct from income) certain other work expenses of the parties (ie. cost of commuting to work, tools, mandatory employee pension contributions, etc.), particularly where only one of either the payor or the recipient of spousal support has those expenses. For many low to even mid-earning parents, these additional expenses may make it difficult to get by on their remaining incomes after paying child and spousal support. However, rather than further deducting these expenses from the INDI calculation used in calculating income for the SAGGs (thus reducing the whole quantum range), mandatory expenses are a reason to look to the lower end of the range of both amount (quantum) and duration (how long) of spousal support to be paid.

Applying The Spousal Support SSAG

As indicated above, spousal support can be a difficult issue for separating spouses, particularly in determining how much and how long spousal support should be paid (after entitlement to support has been established). While the SSAGs are of significant assistance in this (particularly as opposed to analyzing budgets or “picking a number out of the air”), the formulas are complicated and subject to many rules and exceptions. Great effort and caution must be used in both entering information into the SSAGs Guidelines and interpreting their result – one cannot simply use the mid-range of both quantum and duration to determine a reasonable payment of spousal support.

The rules applicable to the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAGs) are only one of the considerations that must be addressed in using the Guidelines to determine spousal support. Calgary Spousal Support Advisory Guideline Lawyers assist their clients to understand the different ways spousal support can be determined, and the different considerations (ie. rules, factors and exceptions) which must be applied in using the SSAGs to determine levels and duration of such support. Click here for more free information.

If you have questions on SSAG Spousal Support Rules Factors and Exceptions call us now toll-free at 1-877-602-9900.