Spousal Support… How Much Will I Get?

November 15th, 2011 by

Once you are able to prove you are entitled to receive spousal support (or, if you are the payor, once you have been advised that you will have to pay some spousal support to your spouse), the next question is, how much and for how long?  There are no legislated guidelines for spousal support similar to the federal Child Support Guidelines for child support.  The closest tool we have, which most judges are relying on, is the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines, or the SSAGs, as commonly referred to.  The SSAGs are extremely complex and it is advised that you speak with a family lawyer about your spousal support rights and obligations while using this tool.

The SSAGs take into account the parties’ ages at the time of separation, the length of cohabitation, the parties’ incomes, and how much child support is being paid, among other more complicated factors.  Once this information has been plugged into the SSAG software program, a range of spousal support, both for the quantum and the duration, will be calculated.  The range, based on quantum, will be set out using a low-end point, a mid-point and a high-end point on a scale.  The mid-point is usually a good starting place to determine how much spousal support should be paid, although there are many factors to consider when determining a fair amount, both to the payor and to the recipient, while taking into account both parties’ standards of living and needs.  For example, in cases where the recipient is disabled, spousal support based on the high end of the scale may be appropriate.  Conversely, in situations where the cohabitation period was only two years, spousal support based on the low end of the scale may be appropriate.  The range, based on duration, will be set out using an end date range that corresponds with the amount of time the parties cohabited together.  In some cases where the parties have had a long-term relationship and one party earns a great deal less than the other, the duration may be calculated as “indefinite” using the SSAG program.  This suggests that a time-limited period of spousal support may not be appropriate given the facts of the situation.

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