What Is Indefinite Support in Edmonton?
Money is often a major question when it comes to the end of a marriage or adult interdependent relationship. Because it is not uncommon for partners to share finances, the end of a relationship may mean significant financial changes for one or both individuals as their lives take on new directions.
Depending on the circumstances, spousal support may be ordered to help a spouse transition to financial independence. It may be ordered for a set amount of time, or it may have no determined end date, which would make it indefinite.
What is Spousal Support?
Spousal support is a regular payment from a higher-earning spouse or adult interdependent partner to a lower-earning spouse or adult interdependent partner following their separation. It is intended to help the lower-earning partner bridge the gap between financial circumstances in light of the relationship’s end, and transition to a financially independent life.
Every relationship is different, and the ways in which couples navigate their financial interdependence may vary vastly. In some cases, one partner may forgo their career in favour of sustaining the children and the matrimonial home while the other partner pursues income. Without spousal support, the non-earning partner may face immense financial hardship following a separation.
In some cases, spouses may set up the terms of spousal support in a separation agreement, which may indicate a period of time in which the higher-earning spouse will provide support to the other. There is no official set period for spousal support, however. If the spouses do not have a mutual agreement, a judge may decide whether spousal support is applicable, and how long it must be paid.
Considerations for Determining Spousal Support
The court will consider many factors in determining how much spousal or partner support must be paid, and for how long. Spousal support is paid to a lower-earning spouse by a higher-earning spouse. Factors considered in determining whether it is applicable may include:
- How long the parties were married
- Both former spouses’ financial circumstances
- The roles both spouses played during the marriage, e.g., homemaker/primary earner
- Whether the spouses share children
- Whether there are existing orders or agreements for spousal support in place
- And more
For tailored insight into your particular circumstances, contact us to set up a consultation with our Edmonton family lawyers today.
The length of time support must be paid typically depends on how long the spouses were together, and always ends when the recipient passes away. In some cases, spousal support may end earlier. It may end when the payor passes away, unless they leave behind assets such as life insurance or RRSPs, which may continue to pay spousal support.
Likewise, spousal support may end when the recipient spouse remarries or enters into a new adult interdependent relationship (for more details, read our blog “How Does Getting Remarried Affect Spousal Support Payments in Alberta?”)
Spousal support orders or agreements may specify events or dates that might trigger an end to payments. Examples include when the payor spouse retires, or when the recipient spouse remarries.
If no end dates are specified, the spousal support is indefinite. However, even indefinite spousal support in Alberta may be altered, depending on the circumstances.
When Might Spousal Support Be Indefinite?
Sometimes, a judge may order indefinite spousal support as a means of keeping the support open-ended, with the opportunity for the order to be changed or terminated in the future.
According to the federal Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines, there are two main situations in which a court may award indefinite support in Alberta:
- When a marriage or adult interdependent relationship has lasted 20 years or longer (“Rule of 20”)
- When the length of a marriage or adult interdependent relationship, added to the recipient’s age, equals 65 or more (“Rule of 65”)
Both situations consider the age of the recipient, and the difficulty of transitioning to financial independence after a substantial time of interdependence.
How to Change a Spousal Support Order
A spousal support order may be altered or terminated under circumstances that indicate a material change. Examples of such a change include:
- The recipient spouse remarrying or entering a new adult interdependent relationship, in which their financial circumstances change
- The recipient spouse having a change in their own financial status, such as receiving a substantial raise in salary, which may render them self-sufficient
- The payor of support becoming no longer able to sustain a certain level of income, such as due to retirement, injury, or illness
To learn more, including how to change spousal or partner support in Alberta, contact our Edmonton family lawyers today to schedule a consultation.
Contact Our Edmonton Family Lawyers Today for a Consultation
Spousal support can be a challenging aspect to navigate in family law. What may be possible depends on the particulars of your and your former spouse’s circumstances, and may change as time goes on. For a dedicated consultation on what may be possible for you, contact us today to speak with the Edmonton family lawyers at Verhaeghe Law.
** Please note, this article is intended as a general overview on the subject of family law, and is not intended to be legal advice. If you are seeking legal advice, please consult with an Alberta family lawyer.