As anyone going through a separation or divorce in Alberta knows, nothing lasts forever. Even the agreements made about life after marriage, such as child and spousal support, don't necessarily continue indefinitely. Payment amounts sometimes change to reflect new circumstances in either the payee or payer's life. In legal terms, this is a variation of support.
The courts will not approve a variation of spousal support unless there is a good reason to do so. The person making the request must show there has been a material change in the situation of one of the two parties. This is mandated under the federal divorce law.Non-married parties may deal with spousal support through analogous provisions of the Family Law Act.
There are many reasons why one of the parties might ask for a variation. For example, it may be that one party challenges the validity of the original agreement. He or she may believe the agreement arose from a time of oppression or extreme vulnerability. An agreement made under duress might not hold up in the face of a challenge.
The purpose of spousal support is to mitigate any financial disadvantage the recipient suffers because of the divorce. If that disadvantage no longer exists for some reason, a variation may be in order. For example, if the payer loses his or her source of income, or if the recipient substantially increases his or her income, the disadvantage may be nullified and a variation may be appropriate.
A successful request for a variation of spousal support requires sufficient supporting evidence to persuade the court. No matter whether one is the recipient or the provider of support, it would be helpful to have professional assistance with this matter. A lawyer's skill with Alberta family law and federal divorce law may be just what's required to get the job done.
Source: FindLaw Canada, "What is a variation of spousal or child support?", June 1, 2017