What reason can someone use for seeking spousal support or partner support in Alberta?
In Alberta, the reasons for seeking spousal or partner support, often known as alimony, are based on several factors and principles under the legal framework. Spousal support is financial assistance provided to a former spouse after the end of a marriage or an Adult Interdependent Relationship (common law relationship). The primary aim of spousal support is to mitigate financial disparities between partners following their separation or divorce.
The determination of spousal support in Alberta involves several considerations, including:
- Financial Means and Needs of Both Spouses: This involves assessing each person’s income and expenses. When both parties have similar incomes and no special expense considerations (like large medical costs), spousal support may not be required. The larger the income gap between the parties, the more likely it is that the higher-earning party will have to pay spousal support.
- Length of the Marriage: The duration of the marriage or relationship plays a significant role in determining the length of the spousal support order. Generally, the longer the marriage or cohabitation, the longer the duration of spousal support.
- Roles During the Marriage: The roles each spouse played during the marriage are considered, especially if one partner put their career on hold to care for the home and children, leading to a direct loss of income.
- Compensatory and Non-Compensatory Claims:
- Compensatory Claims: This type of support is awarded due to an economic disadvantage caused by the marriage. It is often the case when one spouse’s role, such as child-rearing, resulted in a loss of their earning capacity.
- Non-Compensatory Claims: This is need-based support. It is generally meant to address economic hardship resulting from the divorce or if one spouse’s standard of living declines significantly from the standard during the marriage.
- Care of the Children: The responsibility for child care also influences the decision on spousal support.
- Encouragement of Self-Sufficiency: The goal is often to encourage the spouse receiving support to become self-sufficient within a reasonable period.
- Existing Agreements or Orders: Any prior arrangements or agreements about spousal support are also taken into account.
In summary, the reasons for seeking spousal or partner support in Alberta are multifaceted, considering the economic realities of both parties post-separation, the duration and nature of the marriage or relationship, child care responsibilities, and the goal of facilitating a reasonable transition to financial independence for the lower-earning spouse.