Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines July 2008


For those of you who have read this document from beginning to end, we know that it has been a long and winding road to get here The Advisory Guidelines are admittedly complex. But spousal support raises many difficult issues. There are no simple solutions and there is no "one big formula". That is why the Advisory Guidelines contain two formulas, not one: the without child support formula and the with child support formula. The formulas generate not precise numbers but ranges for both the amount and the duration of spousal support. The with child support formula is actually a family of formulas, each one adjusting for different custodial arrangements. The formulas become even more flexible with the use of restructuring. Finally, there are a series of exceptions to both formulas.

In the three years since the release of the Draft Proposal, the Advisory Guidelines have been used by spouses, lawyers, mediators and judges to assist in the resolution of thousands of cases across Canada. The Advisory Guidelines have already served to refocus and revitalize discussions about the law and practice of spousal support in Canada. Over that three-year period, revisions and adjustments have been made to the Advisory Guidelines in response to comments, criticisms and suggestions from those same spouses, lawyers, mediators and judges. This final version of the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines brings to an end the most intensive part of the process.

The Department of Justice continues to monitor developments in the law of spousal support and will now be monitoring the Advisory Guidelines. If there is a major appellate decision, that may spark a need for review as well. It must not be forgotten that the Advisory Guidelines are intended to be a reflection of the current law.

The software suppliers make regular adjustments to their programs for changes in tax rates and structures, changes in government benefits and the like. This means that the formulas will be updated regularly on these technical matters.

Finally, it now appears that the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines have become entrenched as a useful tool in the law of spousal support. As such, they have now become part of the everyday analysis employed by spouses, lawyers, mediators and judges. Undoubtedly legal publishers will step in, to provide analysis and updates on the case law. The Advisory Guidelines will continue to be a topic on family law programs for lawyers, mediators and judges. In only a few short years, the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines have gone from concept to Draft Proposal to final version, and now belong to all those who operate in the field of family law.