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Things to know about spousal support in Alberta

For many couples, one of the great difficulties that may arise when a marriage or partnership has ended is becoming financially independent. It is very common for one spouse to provide the bulk of the household income, which makes it hard for the other spouse to survive on his or her own. For that reason, the concept of spousal, or partner support, was created. For those who haven't yet looked deeply into support and may have some questions, here are some useful things to know about spousal support in Alberta.

The most important thing to know is that support is not guaranteed. If the income disparity between spouses does not put either at a disadvantage, support will not be awarded. For partners who are not married, but who do not have a recognized Adult Interdependent Relationship, there will also be no support granted.

A spouse seeking support under the Divorce Act will be subject to certain considerations. The judge will need to make a decision based on any evident economic disadvantages and childcare costs outside of child support payments. He or she will look at the length of the marriage, each spouse's role within the marriage and whether any pre-arrangements for support were made before calculating any support payments.

It should also be understood that spousal support is not a reward, nor is it a punishment for behaviour, good or bad, during the marriage. In other words, if a spouse was found to be misbehaving (such as having an affair), there will be no impact on any support payments. Despite what may be seen on television or in films, support payments are based on a predetermined formula. 

These are only some of the basics of spousal support under federal and Alberta law. Anyone who plans on seeking support in a divorce would be well advised to do further research. Discussing the situation with an experienced and caring family law attorney is also an advisable course of action.

Source: albertacourts.ca, "General information: Spousal/partner support", Accessed on Dec. 12, 2016

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