Options For Paying Spousal Support

Options for Paying Spousal Support: Lump Sum Versus Periodic

There are many factors that determine how spousal support should be paid. 

If you are considering divorce, it’s likely that you will need to come to an agreement on issues regarding spousal support. Spousal support is money that is paid to one spouse to another as a financial assistance. Spousal support exists to lessen the financial burden of a spouse who experienced a loss of income as a result of the marriage or it’s breakdown. For example, one party may have stayed out of the workforce to raise the children, or one party may make a considerably higher income than the other.

There are many different ways to pay and receive spousal support. These typically depend on the unique situation of the parties involved. Spousal support is a complicated area of the law, our skilled divorce lawyers provide insight into lump sum versus periodic spousal support.

Lump Sum Spousal Support v. Periodic Spousal Support

The general rule in Alberta is that spousal support should generally be ordered as monthly support. A lump sum award should be the exception to that rule. The case law suggests different scenarios where a lump sum award has been found to be appropriate, such as:

  1. The payor’s past conduct suggests that there is a real risk that periodic spousal support will not be paid if it is ordered;
  2. the payor cannot afford periodic support, but can afford a lump sum amount without undermining their future self-sufficiency;
  3. the payee has an immediate need, such as a large debt or retraining;
  4. where the circumstances of the case are such that a clean break between the parties is necessary and a lump sum would aid in that;
  5. where the advantages of a lump sum award outweigh the disadvantages;
  6. a lump sum would promote the payee’s self-sufficiency; and
  7. there’s a real chance that the payor may dissipate capital.

Thus, the Court will generally award periodic monthly support over lump sum support, unless the facts of the case suggest that lump sum would be more appropriate.

Case Law Regarding Lump Sum Spousal Support

In Baker v. Baker 2003, the husband made on average $115,000 per year. He now suffers from depression and has not been able to work. He receives disability benefits equal to 70% of his base salary. The wife is educated, but passed up several different job opportunities so that she could care for the children. The Court concluded that lump sum spousal support was appropriate, given the following factors: 1) the husband is not against paying a lump sum award; 2) the wife has an immediate capital need for retraining and the husband will receive disability payments and possibly more if he seeks further treatment for his depression; 3) because of his medical condition and past conduct, the Court does not believe he will honor an order for periodic support.

Resolving Spousal Support Issues

It is not uncommon for spousal support issues to be a major point of contention in a divorce. It is possible to resolve these issues out of court saving you both time and money. Mediation is often an effective option for resolving such issues. Mediation allows you to have control over the outcome and reach a mutually agreeable resolution. This is much different from the litigation processes where a binding decision will be imposed on you.

If you need legal advice regarding spousal support, connect with us. Our divorce lawyers are highly skilled in this area of the law and will help you navigate this difficult territory.

Creating A Parenting Plan That Works!

Parenting Plans: Decision-Making Rights And Responsibilities

Putting a parenting plan in place now will help you down the road.

Part of a comprehensive parenting plan involves determining how certain parenting decisions will be made. The options are joint decision making, one party having certain decision-making power either overall or only in the event of an impasse, or splitting up issues so that one parent has the right to make decisions about certain issues and the other assumes the responsibility about making decisions about other issues.

Basic Personal Information

Regardless of decision making responsibilities, it is necessary that both parents always disclose their current home and work addresses along with the proper contact information. Any changes to these statuses must be put into writing within 24 hours.

Major Decisions

Shared decision-making infers that both parents will consult one another when making major decisions that affect the child. In order for shared decision-making to work parents must have open communication and not withhold any information that may mislead major decisions. Most commonly, parents are expected to consult with each other about important questions concerning the child’s welfare, such as religion, education, major recreational activities, changes in social environment and non-emergency medical care. However, the right to consult with each other should not to be used to interfere with the life of the other party. Each party should use their best efforts to work cooperatively in future plans consistent with the best interests of the child and in amicably resolving such disputes as they may arise.

Day-to-Day Decisions

Typically, each parent is permitted to make decisions about the day-to-day care of the child when the child is in their care. This includes decisions such as whether a child can attend a play date or birthday party during their parenting time, what should be fed to the children, whether they can stay up late to finish a movie, etc. That said, it is advisable for parents to develop a standard set of rules, expectations, chores and discipline practices as part of their comprehensive parenting plan to ensure consistency for the children and a more seamless transition between homes. This could include screen time, gaming time, bedtimes, when to allow children to have their own telephones and computers, chore expectations, and other issues parents deem important.

Emergencies

If an emergency situation arises the parent who is currently caring for the child is responsible for making decisions in the child’s best interest. That parent should then inform the other about the emergency as soon as possible.

Access to Information

It's also considered a basic right for both parents to have access to the child’s information as it relates to school and education, medical care, sports / artistic programs and other professionals with whom the children may be involved. Each parent should sign the appropriate documentation to permit access to records and reports pertaining to the child and cooperate when it comes to the sharing of information regarding the welfare of the child. It is also commonly considered the responsibility of each parent to obtain records and reports directly from the educational and medical institutions and professionals. It should not be one parent’s obligation to constantly provide that information to the other. Similarly, both parents will be listed as “emergency contacts” in whatever the child is enrolled.

When it comes to non-emergencies including medical, psychological, optical or dental care the parents will consult with each other. If disagreements arise parents will consult the health care provider and follow their professional advice including referrals to other health care providers.

Extra-Curricular Activities

Decisions regarding enrollment and participation shall not be made without consulting the other parent. This is true for all organized activities such as sports teams, lessons or special training. When the child is under the supervision of one parent, that parent is responsible for determining social events and attendance at organized activities. However, it is in the best interests of children to consistently attend their organized activities so each parent should make their best efforts to ensure the children’s attendance. Both parents have a responsibility to disclose all information to the other parent about the child’s participation in events and activities including concerts, award ceremonies, plays, and sports events. However, both parents have the responsibility to obtain this type of information directly from the school / sport / artistic body.

Attendance at Special Events / School Volunteering

Children love to have their parents attend their special events. Typically, each parent will be entitled to attend and participate in school and extracurricular activities and events, such as school concerts, music concerts, dance shows, and sporting games. Both parents will be able to volunteer at the school and should share such opportunities in the event they are limited.

By creating a parenting plan, you will avoid disputes down the road. It's better to take the time to address issues proactively than have to make decisions on a reactive basis. If you need help creating your parenting plan, connect with us! 

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