How Do I Get Out of Paying Spousal Support?

From Clicklaw Wikibooks

Unlike an obligation to support a child, there is no guaranteed obligation that one spouse must support the other. However, if you were in a relationship that qualifies as a spousal relationship, you must face the possibility that you might have to pay support when your relationship ends.

The Divorce Act deals only with married spouses.

The Family Law Act defines as spouse as including:

  • married spouses,
  • people who lived in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years, and
  • people who lived in a marriage-like relationship for less than two years and have had a child together.

If you really want to get out of paying spousal support, the time to start planning is at the beginning of your relationship:

  • Sign a cohabitation agreement (if you're not planning on getting married) or a marriage agreement (if you're getting married) that requires each of you gives up the right to make a claim for spousal support in the event that your relationship ends. Remember, this agreement must not only be fair at the time it is executed, it must also be fair at the time it comes into effect.

During the relationship, you can guard against causing or allowing your spouse to become financially dependent:

  • Make sure that your spouse never leaves the paid work force.
  • If you have a child, make sure that you're the one who stays home to care for the baby or make sure that your spouse returns to work as soon as is humanly possible.
  • Make sure that your spouse or partner never sacrifices a job opportunity to care for the family, such as passing up a promotion, going to part-time work, or leaving work altogether.

Spousal support may be payable whenever one spouse leaves a relationship at a financial disadvantage compared to the other spouse. As long as there is a difference in the parties' financial situations, there is a possibility that support will be paid.

There's a lot more information about the sorts of things the court will take into account in assessing a duty to pay support in the chapter Spousal Support.


This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by David Dundee, June 23, 2017.



Creativecommonssmall.png JP Boyd on Family Law © John-Paul Boyd and Courthouse Libraries BC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.


Normally referred to as the "Supreme Court of British Columbia," this court hears most court proceedings in this province. The Supreme Court is a court of inherent jurisdiction and is subject to no limits on the sorts of claims it can hear or on the sorts of orders it can make. Decisions of the Provincial Court are appealed to the Supreme Court; decisions of the Supreme Court are appealed to the Court of Appeal. See "Court of Appeal," "jurisdiction," "Provincial Court" and "Supreme Court of Canada."

A court established and staffed by the provincial government, which includes Small Claims Court, Youth Court and Family Court. The Provincial Court is the lowest level of court in British Columbia and is restricted in the sorts of matters it can deal with. It is, however, the most accessible of the two trial courts and no fees are charged to begin or defend a court proceeding. Small Claims Court, for example, cannot deal with claims larger than $25,000, and Family Court cannot deal with the division of family property or matters under the Divorce Act. See "judge" and "jurisdiction."

A duty, whether contractual, moral or legal in origin, to do or not do something. See "duty."

A person who is younger than the legal age of majority, 19 in British Columbia. See "age of majority."

Under the Divorce Act, either of two people who are married to one another, whether of the same or opposite genders. Under the Family Law Act, married spouses, unmarried parties who have lived together in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years, and, for all purposes of the act other than the division of property or debt, unmarried parties who have lived together for less than two years but have had a child together. See "marriage" and "marriage-like relationship."

In family law, the quality of an unmarried couple's relationship that demonstrates their commitment to each other, their perception of themselves as a couple and their willingness to sacrifice individual advantages for the advantage of themselves as a couple; a legal requirement for a couple to be considered spouses without marrying. See "cohabitation," "marriage" and "spouse."

Money paid by one spouse to another spouse either as a contribution toward the spouse's living expenses or to compensate the spouse for the economic consequences of decisions made by the spouses during their relationship.

An agreement signed by people who are or have begun to live together in a marriage-like relationship that is intended to govern their rights and obligations in the event of the breakdown of their relationship and, sometimes, their rights and obligations during their relationship. See "family law agreement."

An agreement signed by people who are planning on marrying or have married that is intended to govern their rights and obligations in the event of the breakdown of their marriage and, sometimes, their rights and obligations during their marriage. See "family law agreement."

The assertion of a legal right to an order or to a thing; the remedy or relief sought by a party to a court proceeding.

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