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How is BC Spousal Support Alimony Calculated

Vancouver spousal support lawyers are often asked: How is BC Spousal Support Alimony Calculated? This is one of the most frequently asked questions our experienced Vancouver BC spousal support lawyers get asked. Our Vancouver spousal support and BC spousal support lawyers  know correctly answering this spousal support and alimony amount question requires a thorough analysis of the length of the marriage, the roles taken by each spouse, the number of children and most importantly the real earning capacity of both spouses. Getting the answer to: How is BC Spousal Support Alimony Calculated? – right is critical in a BC spousal support case.

Our lawyers know Vancouver spousal support because we set a records for interim support of over $83,000 a month, trial support of $100,000 a month and another record Vancouver spousal support lump sum of well over $4 million.


Table of Contents

  1. Calculating the proper amount of BC spousal support
  2. How much spousal support is payable and for how long?
  3. Spousal Support Calculation Formulas
  4. BC Spousal Support Alimony: Without Child Support Formula
  5. BC Spousal Support Alimony: With Child Support Formula
  6. A Customized Strategy For BC Spousal Support Alimony Calculation
How is BC Spousal Support Alimony Calculated?
BIV BC 500 leading family lawyer Lorne MacLean, KC

Calculating the proper amount of BC spousal support Tel: 604 602 9000

In today’s blog Lorne N MacLean, KC deals with the thorny question of calculating the proper amount of BC spousal support (also called alimony in the past) and how long it should last.

  • Almost no parent objects to paying child support
  • and most ex-spouses understand dividing the family property they acquired equally is fair with the new exceptions for gifts, inheritances and pre-relationship assets.
  • BUT many people object to paying spousal support, particularly for life!


How much spousal support is payable and for how long? Tel: 604 602 9000

Our BC spousal support and spousal alimony clients are anxious to find out how much spousal support is payable and for how long. A mistake in either or both of these areas can mean an error of hundreds of thousands of dollars. So what procedures are followed to get a proper answer to the burning question of: How is BC Spousal Support Calculated?

More than a decade ago, the federal government hired two professors to analyze old Canadian spousal support decisions and then try to create a math formula based on an average of all of the cases for various amounts of income, lengths of marriages and the presence and number of children born of the relationship. To read the latest version read this.

How is BC Spousal Support Alimony Calculated?
Lorne MacLean QC wins top 25 most influential lawyers

How is BC Spousal Support Alimony Calculated? We Use Two Spousal Support Formulas!

They came up with the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines called the SSAG for short. I often tell people they are called “SSAG” because that is what the paying spouse’s shoulders do when they are told how much support they must pay and the length of their payment obligation.

The two professors came up for one formula to cover where children were born from the partnership (even step-children count!) and another formula for childless relationships.

How is BC Spousal Support Alimony Calculated? The Without Child Support Formula –Tel: 604 602 9000

This formula is pretty simple and results in smaller payments for shorter relationships up to payments that can nearly equalize incomes in long marriages. You can get a rough idea of support using a pencil and paper or your cell phone calculator.


For childless relationships, the BC spousal support amount ranges from 1.5 to 2 percent of the difference between the spouses’ gross incomes (the gross income difference) for each year of marriage/cohabitation up to a maximum of 50 percent. The range remains fixed for marriages 25 years or longer, at 37.5 to 50 percent of income difference. (The upper end of this maximum range is capped at the amount that would result in equalization of the spouses’ net incomes — the net income cap).

Length – Beware the Rule of 65!

Duration ranges from .5 to 1 year for each year of marriage. However, support will be indefinite (duration not specified) if the marriage is 20 years or longer in duration or if the marriage has lasted five years or longer when years of marriage and age of the support recipient (at separation) added together total 65 or more (the rule of 65).

Take Away: Shorter childless relationships lend themselves to parties starting over but long term relationships even without children can result in an economic merger which means support can be payable for life.

How is BC Spousal Support Alimony Calculated? The Basic With Child Support Formula for Amount – Tel: 604 602 9000

The second formula requires a computer program to deal with its complexities. In shorter marriages, the amount is way higher than the without child formula. Click here for a free spousal support calculator.

The Basic With Child Support Formula for Amount

  1. Determine the individual net disposable income (INDI) of each spouse:
  2. Guidelines Income minus Child Support minus Taxes and Deductions = Payor’s INDI
  3. Guidelines Income minus Notional Child Support minus Taxes and Deductions plus Government Benefits and Credits = Recipient’s INDI
  4. Add together the individual net disposable incomes.  Next, calculate the range of spousal support amounts that would be required to leave the lower-income recipient spouse with between 40 and 46 percent of the combined INDI.

When children are involved in a primary residential setting the parent with children always has over 50% of the net disposable income (more people means they get more than half)  Unlike the without child  formula the spouse doesn’t get 50 % of the NDI when kids are involved because even an access parent has costs for exercising access to their children during the time they spend with their children. Finally, the payor logically has employment-related expenses whereas the recipient spouse caring for children at home full time has access to both child and spousal support.

Length- In short relationships with children be prepared to pay more and longer compared to childless ones!

  • Upper End of the Range: the longer of
    • the length of the marriage, or
    • the date the last or youngest child finishes high school
  • Lower End of the Range: the longer of
    • one-half the length of the marriage, or
    • the date the youngest child starts full-time school

Danger! There Are Exceptions!

  • Incomes over $350,000 can lead to a departure from the guidelines Lorne N MacLean, QC deals with these high-income cases and helps prevent errors in calculation that can total in the hundreds of thousands over time.
  • Compelling financial circumstances at the interim stage
  • Debt payments
  • Prior support obligations
  • Illness and disability

Get A Customized Strategy For Your Case To Answer How is BC Spousal Support Alimony Calculated In My Case?

So there you have it – a short snappy summary that answers the age-old question for separated spouses of: How is BC Spousal Support Alimony Calculated? This summary by top-rated family lawyer Lorne N MacLean, QC is simplistic due to the need for brevity. Meeting with one of our top-rated Vancouver, Surrey, Kelowna Fort St John BC  and Calgary spousal support lawyers to get a customized strategy for your fact pattern may be the best money you spent since meeting your ex-spouse.