The Road to Successful Spousal Support Negotiations

The Road to Successful Spousal Support Negotiations

Alberta Divorce Finances

Most lawyers would agree that spousal support is the most contentious issue in divorce negotiations. The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAG) developed in 2005, have gone a long way toward paving the road to more consistent and predictable support awards. Though I am not lawyer and cannot quote the law nor provide legal advice, I can tell you that to a large extent, support is meant to bridge the economic gap between the parties. There are many factors that may affect the determination of the quantum of support like, length of marriage, roles in the marriage, education level, ability to work, etc.

I have discussed the issue with many clients and helped thousands of couples reach resolution on the issue, once they have received independent legal advice. The circumstances and/or the reasons for the separation play a significant role in the emotional side of negotiating spousal support. As you can imagine, if a woman makes the decision to separate and then must also ask her ex-husband for spousal support, that husband payer will more than likely be very upset that his spouse who no longer wants to live with him, is still asking to be financially dependent on him. Affairs, abuse, addiction, and having grown apart, are just a few of the reasons people choose to separate from their spouse/partner; each may have very different emotional effects on the parties and thus the success of negotiations.

My advice to clients is to try to embrace empathetic understanding; to use one’s imagination to feel your ex-spouse’s pain and position. This approach may help the parties understand what their spouse/partner may be feeling by “putting yourself in their shoes”.  Empathy is not an easy trait to master, especially in the midst of separation; some people may not even be capable. This is a difficult “ASK” at a time in negotiations when you are fighting for the best deal possible. During negotiations it is important to remember that your ex-spouse’s mind likely differs from yours. Although you may not agree, it is important to step into each other’s shoes in order to better understand the other person’s point of view.

Sometimes, the road to success in spousal support negotiations is perspective, and it may be beneficial to gain a new one.

Canada Revenue Agency Spousal Support Payment Information

Spousal Support Calculator