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Spouses in the Collaborative Divorce process often are concerned about how they are going to meet their lifestyle needs after they are separated. There is usually a period of transition from one household to two, as the children grow up and become independent, and as the spouses move through the stages of their working lives. Spousal support is a payment from one spouse to the other to address these transitions and to recognize the investment made by the spouses in the life they have had together. The discussion of spousal support can be difficult, with emotional, legal and financial complexities. Spouses will exchange information about their income and earning capacity and their monthly expenses. Where there are children, their financial needs and the financial consequences of the day to day care of the children, will be given priority and apportioned between the spouses as part of the discussion of spousal support.
The Divorce Act sets out the factors to be considered and the objectives to be met in determining spousal support – how long did the spouses live together, what was the role of each spouse in the marriage, what value should be given to the contributions made by the spouses during the marriage, should one spouse be compensated for the financial benefit to the other, how is economic hardship arising relieved, and how is self-sufficiency of each spouse promoted?
Is one spouse entitled to support from the other and if so, how much should be paid and for how long? There are Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines to inform the negotiations in considering the means, needs and other circumstances of each spouse. Can there be a waiver of spousal support or can it be paid as a lump sum or through an uneven division of property?
The collaborative process allows the spouses to express their goals and interests, to be flexible and creative in looking at options for settlement and share a commitment to resolving their disputes respectfully.
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