How to Get Spousal Support in BC

How to Get Spousal Support in BC

How to get spousal support in BC depends on many factors including incomes, length of cohabitation, whether there are children involved and whether the spouses want to hash out spousal support issues through mediation or court proceedings. There are two different types of Courts in BC that can order spousal support: the BC Provincial Court and the BC Supreme Court. Read on here to learn more.

Spousal support in BC is a controversial area of family law. Some argue that the concept of spousal support in BC should be demolished all together because it is unfair, and some argue that it is a necessity.

In BC and Canada we have the ‘no fault’ rule which means that for example, if a wife cheated on her husband after a 20 year marriage and there was a separation, the husband may be liable to pay spousal support every month for the rest of his life to the wife. This is despite the wife having an affair and breaking up a family and marriage. Needless to say, there are very strong opinions when it comes to spousal support in BC and Canada and there has been an outcry for the financial unfairness it causes. More so from men.

On the other hand, there may be situations when the wife stayed at home to have children. She gave up economic opportunities such as having a proper career and education so that the husband could go out and make money while she let go of her dreams. So no matter what the cause of separation was, she could say she is entitled to compensation for life because of what she sacrificed during the marriage.

I am not here to take either side. All I am going to say is that with the new generation and equality for men and women, spousal support is no longer making much sense. Regardless of having children or not, nowadays women try to have careers and become independent. But today there are still those women or men who are in legitimate need of spousal support and I am here to tell them how to obtain it in BC.

Entitlement to Spousal Support in BC

Spousal support in BC in not an automatic right. So if your income is different from your spouse, that does not automatically entitle you to spousal support. The first thing you need to do is to prove that you are entitled to spousal support in BC. That is the first hurdle you need to overcome before obtaining any spousal support in BC. To establish entitlement to spousal support you must prove the following:

  1. You are disadvantaged as a result of marriage. This means that the marriage  has caused economic hardship to you. An example of this is when you stayed at home to raise children during the marriage and did not have an opportunity to become self sufficient of independent. Or you let go of you job and moved somewhere else so that your spouse could obtain a better paying job.
  2. You are disadvantaged as a result of the marriage break down. This means you cannot enjoy the same standard of living that you enjoyed during the marriage because of the break up.
  3. Your means are not enough to afford you a life that you enjoyed during the marriage. This means that your income is not enough to address all your needs such as having a proper home, food, or other expenses that you could afford with the income of your spouse.
  4. Your gave up opportunities so that your spouse could grow. 

How to Obtain the Right Amount of Spousal Support in BC

Once you have established entitlement to support, you need to ask for the right amount of spousal support in BC. Several years ago, some smart people came up with a formula that later became a software for determining the right amount of spousal support you are entitled to. The formula and guidelines were captured in what we call the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines. 

The Guidelines provide 3 different ranges of spousal support based on the difference in the net incomes of you and your spouse. They have a low rage, a mid range and a high range.

  • The low range of the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines provide the minimal amount of monthly spousal support you are entitled to. Usually in situations when the marriage is less than 10 years old, or no children are involved, the low range will be used.
  • The mid range of the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines provide the average or mid-range amount of monthly spousal support you are entitled to. This usually happens in marriage that last between 10 to 15 years and when children are involved.
  • The high range of the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines provide the highest amount of spousal support you can obtain. They are usually used when the marriage is more than 15 years, children are involved and the income disparity is high.

In most cases when spouses separate and children are involved, the mid-range is used so you should shoot for that.The high range is exceptional and difficult to argue so low and mid range are more realistic. To obtain a rough estimate of what you are entitled on the different ranges, click here to obtain an idea of what you are entitled to.

There are many exceptions to how much spousal support should be ordered. For example:

  • There are exceptions to Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines in situations where there is a lot family debt;
  • There are exceptions to Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines when one spouse or both are disabled and unable to work permanently;
  • There are exceptions to Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines when there are disabled children.
  • There are exceptions to Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines when one spouse gets remarried or starts cohabiting with someone else, etc.