Child support issues are addressed by the Divorce Act, the Family Law Act and the Federal Child Support Guidelines.
The Divorce Act and the Family Law Act address the issue of the obligation to pay child support and the considerations that are to apply in the making of an order for child support. The Child Support Guidelines provide for the quantum of child support. The objective of the Guidelines is to provide for a fair standard of support, to reduce conflict and tension between spouses, to improve efficiency of the legal process by providing guidance and to ensure consistent treatment of spouses and children who are in similar circumstances. The Guidelines provide that child support is calculated in accordance with the Tables, which form part of the Child Support Guidelines. The Child Support Guidelines also provide for certain exceptions to this rule (eg: shared custody, split custody, undue hardship).
Spousal support (also commonly referred to as “alimony”) is dealt with by both the Divorce Act and the Family Law Act.
Key considerations in the determination of spousal support include:
- Entitlement: Is the party claiming spousal support entitled to it?
- Quantum: What is the appropriate amount of spousal support?
- Duration: For how long should support be paid?
Guidelines, commonly referred to as the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (the “SSAG’s) have recently been developed to assist in the determination of the issues of quantum and duration of support. The SSAG’s assume entitlement – so it is always important that the issue of entitlement be critically examined prior to applying the SSAG’s to the circumstances of your case. The SSAG’s are not mandatory but purely advisory in nature – although the Courts in B.C. have adapted the SSAG’s as being useful in the determination of the issues of quantum and duration of support.