Spousal support, often referred to as alimony, is a concept misunderstood by many people. Of all the aspects of divorce, this may be the one around which the majority of misconceptions lie, possibly because of what is shown on television and in the movies. It may be of interest to men and women in British Columbia to know that spousal support is neither fixed, nor does it necessarily go on indefinitely.
Whether two people have come to an agreement on spousal support, or support was ordered by the court, payments are unlikely to carry on in perpetuity. In general, the longer the marriage, the longer support will continue, but the recipient spouse is expected to become self-supporting within a reasonable time frame. It may be possible to extend support, if applied for, and if a review deems it necessary.
While support is being paid, it may be possible to alter the terms, though the circumstances for doing so vary depending on the nature of the arrangement. If support is part of an agreement, the courts can intervene and replace the agreement with an order under certain conditions. These conditions may include having made an agreement that was not properly understood, or made under duress. Also, if one party feels the agreement was unfair, the court may consider what has caused it to be so and could order a change.
In the case of court ordered support, changes are also possible. Alterations are typically based on a change in either spouse’s financial situation. For example, if either spouse receives a raise in pay, or is forced into a pay cut, the amount of support may be adjusted accordingly.
Men and women who go through a divorce are generally entering into unfamiliar territory. As such, it may be helpful to have a guide through the process and to assist with follow up issues down the road. A lawyer who focuses on family law in British Columbia can help to make the journey easier.
Source: familylaw.lss.bc.ca, “Spousal support: Family Law in BC“, Accessed on Feb. 11, 2017