If your common law relationship ends, and you have been living together for three years, or if you have lived together for less time and have a child or adopted a child together and do not have enough money to support yourself, you can ask your partner to pay support. A spouse receiving support following a breakup has a duty to become and remain self-sufficient. If the requesting spouse has the ability to support themselves at an appropriate level, it is not likely they will be awarded support.
Support may be awarded for a fixed period of time, to allow the recipient the opportunity to become self-sufficient. This is the case when the recipient has been out of the workplace and may need to update their skills. Support may be for an indefinite time if the recipient has an illness, disability, or cannot work outside the home due to the care of young or special needs children. It is always a good idea not to sign away the right to ask for support in the future.
The obligation to support a spouse can be partially or fully discharged through a single lump sum payment, or the transfer of an asset, however the financial and tax implications must be considered. Financial planning advice is necessary to ensure the funds are used wisely and provide an income into the future. Spousal support can be amended if personal circumstances change, such as remarriage job loss or disability. The law of spousal support is extremely complicated, and there are long lasting or permanent financial consequences to both parties.
While child support is neither tax deductible by the payer or taxable by the recipient, spousal support is subtracted from the income of the payer and added to the income of the recipient, therefore, tax considerations must also be carefully weighed.
While a couple with few assets, no children and each is self-sufficient, the legal issues they face may be few. However if there is child or spousal support issues, it is essential that the parties know their rights and obtain proper legal and financial advice. Decisions made following a relationship breakdown can create a long lasting impact which can greatly affect the future of all concerned.