Child & Spousal Support
Upon a separation, a person may be required by the court to provide support for a dependent spouse or child. If the parties agree, support can be provided through a separation agreement.
Child support is governed by the federal Divorce Act where the parents are married and intend to divorce. Where the parents are unmarried or do not wish to divorce, child support is governed by the BC Family Relations Act. In all cases, child support is calculated on the basis of Child Support Guidelines which stipulate the support payable. The amount of support is based on the income of the non-custodial parent, generally without regard to the income of the custodial parent.
In addition to a basic amount of child support, the court can also order the parents to share the cost of such additional expenses as day-care, medical and dental expenses, university education and extracurricular activities.
In BC, child support is generally paid until a child is 19 years old, although the payments can continue beyond the age of 19 if a child remains dependent because of illness,disability or the pursuit of post-secondary education.
It is important to be aware that child support is not tax-deductible and is not taxable income for the parent receiving the support.
Spousal support may be payable if one spouse is dependent upon the other. It is important to be aware that in a "common-law" relationship, there is no entitlement to spousal support unless the parties have lived together as husband and wife for a period of two years or more, a qualification that does not apply if the parties are married.
There are no guidelines for the payment of spousal support and each case must be decided on its own particular facts. Generally, the longer the marriage and the greater the disparity in the economic circumstances of the spouses, the more likely it is that spousal support will be payable.
The duration for which spousal support will be payable also depends on the circumstances of each case. While each spouse is required after a separation to use his or her best efforts to become financially independent of the other, it is recognized that in some cases it may be unreasonable to expect a spouse to ever be financially independent (for example, in a long marriage where one spouse remained at home and out of the work force for many years).
It is important to be aware that spousal support, unlike child support, can be tax deductible to the paying spouse and taxable income to the receiving spouse but only if paid pursuant to a court order or a written agreement signed by both spouses.
Note: The information provided above is general information only and is provided as a public service. For detailed information and advice with respect to your specific circumstances, please contact our office for an appointment.
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