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Famiy law: When a spousal support payor's income increases

Individuals receiving spousal support may be cheering when their former spouses get substantial pay raises. Increasing the amount of spousal support after a payor gets a raise is one of the most contentious, litigated issues in family law in Canada. Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines are used in Canada to determine the duration and what the amount of spousal support should be.

A recent litigated case in Canada involved a former 17-year-marriage. At the time the agreement was made in 2003, the husband, who is the payor, was earning $185,000, while his former wife was unemployed. The man agreed to pay his former wife $1,400 a month in support with a review in 2007. Three years ago, the husband applied to court to have his support terminated, but his former wife wanted the amount increased retroactive to 2007 when the amount should have been reviewed, but wasn't. By this time, the man's income has burgeoned to more than $1 million annually.

A Supreme Court judge ruled that the husband should continue support payments of $1,400 a month until 2021 when those payments would cease. Both the man and the woman appealed the judge's decision. A different judge refuted the decision of the first judge, however, the man's true income must be verified and if he indeed makes more than $1 million a year, the second judge ruled that the man should be paying spousal support of between $25,000 to $33,000 a month indefinitely.

A Calgary family law lawyer is knowledgeable about the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines and may be able to assist a client who has spousal support questions. This area of the law can be both confusing and complex. A lawyer may be able to help iron out the details of support and assist a client with a spousal support agreement.

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