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Calgary Vancouver Spousal Support Exceptions

Calgary Vancouver Spousal Support Exceptions lawyers deal with special circumstances where a departure from the application of the federal Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines may occur. Our 5-time award-winning  “Top Vancouver Family Law Firm” lawyers often see mistakes made by parties or lawyers unfamiliar with these exceptions. Peter Graburn one of our senior family lawyers has written a three-part series on the SSAG’s and the links to his prior 2 articles are listed below. Avoiding big mistakes related to the SSAG exceptions can save you thousands of dollars each year.

Calgary Vancouver Spousal Support SSAG Exceptions

1 877 602 9900

Spousal support can be a difficult issue for separating spouses – payors may feel they are paying too much; recipients may feel they are receiving too little. So how can separating spouses determine what amount of spousal support should be paid? One way is to use the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAGs). The SSAGs are a useful tool to bring some measure of objectivity and consistency to spousal support decisions. But the SSAG calculations may not be strictly applied in certain exceptional situations. Calgary Vancouver Spousal Support Exceptions lawyers can explain the exceptions to you and why they matter in your family case.  In previous articles in this series, we discussed how the SSAG calculations are governed by various rules. See SSAG Spousal Support Rules Factors Exceptions and factors (see Spousal Support SSAG Factors. In this part of the series, we discuss the exceptions to the use of the SSAGs.

What Are SSAG Exceptions And Why Do They Matter? 1 877 602 9900

As previously discussed, the SSAGs use two basic formulas (the “With Child Support” formula and the “Without Child Support” formula) to set a range (low-mid-high) of both quantum (amount) and duration (length of time) of spousal support. But Chapter 12 of the SSAGs recognizes there may be certain family situations that justify a departure from one or both of these ranges.  Our Calgary Vancouver Spousal Support Exceptions will explain to you that there are five (5) major exceptions (as well as several others on a case by case basis – 11 in total) where the SSAGs will not apply to either quantum or duration of spousal support, including:

Illness and Disability if one (or both) of the spouses are ill or disabled and unable to work and have an income or to become self-sufficient, the SSAG formulas will not apply for either quantum or duration of support.  One solution may be to set support at the lower end of the quantum range but make the duration of support indefinite (but the Courts have been inconsistent on the appropriate remedy in this situation); 

Debt Payment – if a payor of spousal support is also responsible for payment of a significant amount of family debt (ie. mortgages and other debts pending sale of the matrimonial home), particularly where debt exceeds assets, the SSAG formulas will not apply for quantum of support and the payor’s income may need to be reduced by the amount of these debt payments;

Prior Support Obligations – if either a payor or recipient of spousal support must support a child or spouse from a previous relationship, the SSAG formulas will not apply for the quantum of support (see also Seed vs. Desai 2014 ONSC 3329 re obligation to support elderly parents). In this situation, the party’s income used to determine support under the SSAGs will be adjusted by the amount of the other support payment;

Compensatory Exception – in shorter marriages where there are no children, if the recipient spouse suffers a disproportionate loss from the breakdown of the relationship (ie. by having given up a job and/or moving to be with their former spouse, or puts the payor through post-secondary education, etc.), the SSAG formulas may not adequately compensate for this loss. In this situation, the recipient would likely have a significant compensatory spousal support claim, and the SSAG formulas would not apply for either quantum or duration of support;

Compelling financial circumstances – finally, there may be situations (particularly in the immediate separation period and for lower-income spouses) that either the payor or recipient spouse has expenses (ie. for housing or debt payment) that cannot be spread out over time, again for which the SSAG formulas (at least regarding duration) should not be taken into account.

Other SSAG Exceptions

Finally, our Calgary Vancouver Spousal Support Exceptions lawyers need you to know that there are also several other exceptions to the SSAGs that should be considered on a case by case basis, including:

division of property (particularly in high income and high net worth situations);

special needs of children (affecting the custodial parent’s ability to work);

non-taxable payor income (ie. workers’ compensation, disability payments, on-reserve income, etc.), and;

basic needs and hardships cases (where the SSAG formulas do not meet even basic expenses in the short-term post-separation).

Calgary Vancouver Spousal Support Exceptions lawyers also know that the listed exceptions under the SSAGs do not mean these are the only reasons to depart from the SSAG formulas – other exceptions to the SSAG formula calculations are being accepted by the Courts continuously.

As we noted in the first article of this series, the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines are just that – advisory guidelines the Courts may look to and use their discretion in applying in awarding spousal support (unlike the federal or provincial Child Support Guidelines, which are law and must be followed unless there is a reason to depart from them). Courts are still free to apply the basic concepts of spousal support (ie. entitlement, “need”, compensation) and must always apply the principles and factors set out in the Divorce Act in making a spousal support award in any particular family situation.        

Accordingly, the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines are not a complete codification of the law regarding spousal support awards (as the Child Support Guidelines are for Section 3 child support). One cannot simply plug in several factors of the family situation and use the mid-range numbers to determine both quantum and duration of spousal support. Instead, many rules and factors must be applied to interpret the ranges of quantum and duration of spousal support set out in the SSAGs, and even then determine whether any exceptions would preclude the strict use of those numbers. Having a top Calgary Vancouver Spousal Support Exceptions lawyer on your side can mean a swing of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the support obligation. For more free government information of SSAG exceptions read this.

Call Our Calgary Vancouver Spousal Support Exceptions lawyers Today

Calgary Spousal Support Advisory Guideline Lawyers assist their clients to understand the different considerations (ie. rules, factors and exceptions) which must be applied in using the SSAGs to determine levels and duration of spousal support, and to understand the different concepts, principles, and factors the Court will apply if spousal support disagreements are to be determined by the Court. Contact us across BC and in downtown Calgary.