Are you going through a divorce in Nova Scotia? You may qualify for spousal support. Formerly known as alimony, spousal support is meant to help one spouse get back on their feet financially following a divorce. It was awarded more commonly in the past, when women stayed home and took care of the family rather than worked. As a result, women were the main recipients of spousal support. Today, spouses of either gender can qualify for it.
While Canadian law expects adults to be able to support themselves, according to NovaScotia.ca, there are circumstances where they cannot, or cannot do so right away after a divorce. If certain other requirements are met, spousal support may be awarded.
If you want to request spousal support, talk to your lawyer about it, and familiarize yourself with the qualifying factors in Nova Scotia. Here is what you need to know.
1. Did You Have a Qualifying Common Law Marriage?
Anyone who was legally married can ask for spousal support, regardless of the length of the marriage. If you were living together but were not married, you may still be able to qualify for it if your living situation is considered a common law marriage.
In order to be considered a common law marriage, you and your partner must have been living together for at least two years in a spousal-like relationship. This applies to both opposite sex and same sex couples. If you've been together for at least that long, you can ask for spousal support if you break up, even if you weren't married.
2. Are You Able to Financially Support Yourself Now?
One of the big factors the courts in Nova Scotia will look at when determining whether to award spousal support is your ability to financially support yourself. If you have that ability, you probably won't be awarded support. An exception is if you can support yourself, but not in the style you were used to during your marriage.
You may be awarded some support to make up the difference in that case, depending on how long your marriage was and how old you are at the time of the divorce. Your ability to increase your income is influenced by your age and health and will be taken into consideration by the court.
3. Will You Be Able to Support Yourself Financially at Some Point in the Future?
If you are not currently able to support yourself, but have the ability to do so with extra education or training, you may be awarded temporary support. If you are unable to support yourself at all, you may be awarded permanent support. When determining whether to award temporary or permanent support, the court considers the following things:
- The length of your marriage
- Your age and health at the time of the divorce
- Your financial and property assets before and after the divorce settlement
- Any disabilities you may have and whether they are expected to be permanent or temporary
- Your contributions to the household during the marriage
- Your contributions to the education of your spouse
- Any particular needs you may have that you cannot meet without financial assistance
Unlike child support laws, which are set in stone in Nova Scotia, spousal support guidelines are suggestions for the courts to follow when determining whether you should be awarded support and if so, how much.
It is up to the discretion of the court whether you get support on a temporary or permanent basis, or at all. If you believe you qualify for support and want to request it, talk to your family lawyer.