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Spousal Support Immigration Sponsorship Agreements disputes focus on spousal support entitlement, spousal support amount, and spousal support duration in what are often short marriage cases. Calgary Spousal Support lawyers help newcomers in Canada maintain their standard of living after separation. Even if your marriage was short, you may be entitled to spousal support. Spousal Support Immigration Sponsorship Agreements impact spousal support awards. Our top-rated Calgary spousal support lawyers can provide you with advice on entitlement and potential spousal support obligations. In this blog, Kaye Booth, Calgary office articled student and former clerk to Judge Veylan of the Provincial Court of Alberta provides insight into how immigration law and family law intersect when parties who signed spousal sponsorship applications separate.

BC Spousal Support Immigration Sponsorship Agreements 1 877 602 9900

Whether or not a party will be entitled to support from their former spouse is based on factors listed under section 15.2(6) the Divorce Act, RSC 1985, c 3. Spousal support may be awarded to a party on non-compensatory grounds — factors based on financial need and the ability to support oneself — and compensatory grounds — factors such as what the party contributed for their spouse to make an income, including possibly sacrificing their career prospects to take care of children. Where a spousal support award is given on non-compensatory grounds, a court will consider factors such as how long the party has been married, and how long the party receiving support should reasonably become self-sufficient, to determine how much support will be given and for how long.

However, where a party immigrated to Canada for marriage and then separated from their spouse, it may be difficult for them to become self-sufficient quickly, especially if they are not yet fluent in English or if their prior education is not transferable to Canada.  Normally this would entitle a party to spousal support on non-compensatory grounds, however, where the marriage was very short, this may make entitlement more difficult to establish. In this case, how can a new immigrant to Canada support themselves after separation?

When a person sponsors their spouse’s immigration to Canada, they sign a sponsorship agreement with the Canadian government. The party undertakes to support their spouse and cover their basic expenses so that they can live in Canada without reliance on social assistance programs for a while (usually three years). Courts have long discussed whether or not these agreements on their own, separate from the factors listed in the Divorce Act, entitle a party to spousal support. Spousal Support Immigration Sponsorship Agreements play a key role in shorter marriage cases where spouses separate shortly after marriage and one spouse earns substantially more than the new spouse who arrived in Canada often speaking a different mother language than English.

Courts across the country agree that a sponsorship agreement is relevant to determining whether a party is entitled to spousal support, but differ in how much weight they give the existence of an agreement. In Nathoo v Nathoo, 2005 ABQB 175, Justice Martin of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench held that a sponsorship agreement must be considered when determining entitlement to spousal support, and where a sponsored spouse is at risk of going destitute and needs to rely on social assistance to continue to live in Canada, the spouse that sponsored them is obligated to support their spouse for the time set out in their sponsorship agreement, even without consideration of the factors in the Divorce Act (at para 9). In Aranes v Guanlao, 2017 ABQB 808, Justice Mandziuk reaffirmed that a sponsorship agreement was highly relevant when determining spousal support, though the factors listed in the Divorce Act should still be considered (at para 24). In both decisions, one party had immigrated to Canada for marriage, and separated shortly after. Both were awarded spousal support largely because of the existence of a spousal agreement. Both decisions, however, make it clear that the party receiving spousal support must make efforts to become self-sufficient in time.

Vancouver and Calgary Spousal Support Lawyers

1 877 602 9900

In Charan v Charan, 2018 BCSC 1537, however, Justice Shergill held that a sponsorship agreement does not form an independent basis to award spousal support. He did, however, specify that it should be taken into consideration along with other factors (at paras 105-106). This decision is not necessarily inconsistent with the Alberta decisions discussed above, however: unlike the applicant in Nathoo, the applicant in Charan was not at risk of needing social assistance to live in Canada and meet her basic needs. If the applicant had had the potential of becoming destitute, the Court may have been willing to consider the sponsorship agreement as a sufficient basis alone to justify spousal support, even in the case of a short marriage.

Calgary Spousal Support Immigration Sponsorship Agreements

Our Calgary spousal support lawyers can explain to you what support you are entitled to after separation, and help you secure that support. Contact MacLean Law today to schedule a consultation. If you have a  Spousal Support Immigration Sponsorship Agreements dispute our Calgary spousal support lawyers can help you through these uncertain times.