What incomes are used in calculating spousal or partner support in Alberta?
In Alberta, the calculation of spousal or partner support is a complex process influenced by various factors, as there is no strictly defined formula like there is for child support. The overall goal of these considerations is to ensure fair and equitable financial arrangements post-separation or divorce, taking into account the unique circumstances of each case.
Key Factors Influencing Spousal or Partner Support in Alberta
- Financial Means and Needs of Both Parties: The court evaluates the financial means, including income, and needs of both spouses. This includes complete tax returns from the past three years, notice of assessment, pay stubs or other proofs of income, a list of monthly expenses with receipts if possible, and a list of all assets and debts.
- Length of the Marriage or Relationship: The duration of the marriage or partnership is a critical factor. Generally, the longer the relationship, the more likely it is that partner support will be ordered.
- Roles During the Marriage: The roles each partner played during the relationship, such as one working while the other stayed at home, are taken into consideration. This includes the impact of these roles on the current financial positions of both parties post-separation.
- Child Care Responsibilities: If children are involved, the care and associated costs are also considered.
- Encouraging Self-Sufficiency: There’s a focus on encouraging the spouse receiving support to become self-sufficient within a reasonable period.
- Existing Orders or Agreements: Any previous agreements or arrangements regarding spousal support are considered.
- Proof of Inability to Support Due to Medical or Educational Reasons: In cases where a party cannot support themselves due to medical issues or educational status, proof of these conditions is required.
- Income Disparities: The greater the income gap between the partners, the more likely it is that a judge will order partner support.
- Partners’ Financial Needs and Conditions: This includes evaluating the health, age, special needs of each partner, and whether they have any children.
- Legal Obligations to Support Another Person: This is considered especially under the Family Law Act.
- Living Arrangements with New Partners: The financial contributions of new partners to household expenses can influence the ability to pay or the need for support.
Formulations for Calculating Support in Alberta
- Without Children: A low-end and high-end amount is calculated based on the difference in gross incomes of the parties, multiplied by a factor (.015 for low-end, .02 for high-end), and then by the number of years lived together.
- With Children: The calculation is more complex, considering net disposable incomes after taxes, deductions, and childcare expenses, ensuring 40-46% of the total income is left to the recipient of spousal support. Child support takes precedence over spousal support in cases where both are applicable.
Court Process and Disclosure in Alberta
- The court requires a detailed profile of income, expenses, and assets at the time of the support application.
- Both parties must provide proof of income, and full disclosure is necessary.
- Withholding information can result in the court awarding costs against the withholding party.
Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines in Alberta
While the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines offer a reference point for calculating spousal support, they are not legally binding. In Alberta, these guidelines serve as a starting point, and if a different amount is requested, an explanation is required. However, there are no similar guidelines for adult interdependent partners.
In summary, the calculation of spousal or partner support in Alberta is a nuanced process that requires a comprehensive evaluation of various factors specific to each case. This approach aims to ensure that the financial impact of the separation is equitably managed for both parties.