Unlike child support in Canada, spousal support is not subject to mandatory guidelines. Direction as to the amount of spousal support payable is often taken from the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines ("SSAG"). The SSAG is not a mandatory formula for spousal support and is not a piece of legislation. Rather, it was a paper presented by experienced practitioners in Family Law to the Department of Justice.
It contains formulae that provide suggested duration and payment amount ranges for spousal support. Although not mandatory, the Courts often do follow the SSAG. Contained within the SSAG however is a proviso, in Part 11, that states that the formulas contained within do not strictly apply to incomes greater than $350,000.00. Since the SSAG formulas do not apply to incomes greater than $350,000, how do Courts seek guidance in determining appropriate spousal support for high income earners?
Thankfully, Part 11 of the SSAG does address this situation. For individuals with children, the SSAG provides two different recommendations. The first approach uses the normal SSAG formula for incomes below $350,000 to determine a minimum amount of spousal support. The SSAG calls this approach the minimum plus method. With this method, high income earners spousal support is set at $350,000, even if they are earning a greater sum. For the other spouse, their actual income amount is used, assuming it is less than $350,000. After calculating this sum, there would then be discretion by the Court to add to the sum for income over $350,000.00 after taking into account the actual amount of child support paid by the payor.
The second approach suggested by the SSAG for high income earners is a pure discretionary approach. Under this method where there is no minimum or maximum for spousal support. The Court would operate on a complete case by case basis to determine the correct support.
At Soby Boyden Lenz LLP, our lawyers can help you navigate the SSAG. We can explain your rights and obligations for spousal support, including guidance as appropriate spousal support for your situation.