Child and Spousal Support in British Columbia
Child and spousal support orders in BC may be made under the Family Law Act or the Divorce Act. Both acts are similar in terms of the wording and objectives. Only legally married couples may apply under the Divorce Act.
Spousal support is governed by Part 7 of the Family Law Act and Section 15 of the Divorce Act. Although they are not law, courts often refer to the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines when determining the appropriate amount of spousal support. Spousal support is not automatic when a couples separates. Before awarding spousal support, under either the Family Law Act or the Divorce Act, the court must be satisfied that a spouse is entitled to spousal support after considering the objectives of spousal support outlined in the legislation . The court must also determine how much spousal support is paid and how long it is payable for based on the length of the relationship and each person’s family role during the relationship. Couples may also reach an agreement as to support.
There are time limits for applying for spousal support. You must file a notice of family claim for spousal support no later than two years after the date you separated if you were common law and no later than two years after you received an order for divorce.
Unlike spousal support, there is no time limit to apply for child support. However, courts encourage parents to apply for child support within a reasonable amount of time and are unlikely to award retroactive child support where a parent has significantly delayed applying. Child support is governed by Part 7 of the Family Law Act and Section 15 of the Divorce Act. The amount of child support a court will award is informed by the Federal Child Support Guidelines which sets out the objectives of child support and the tables. Where one of the parties have income over $150,000, the court has more discretion to depart from the guidelines and award an amount that is different from the guidelines. While couples may also reach an agreement as to child support, that amount must be within the general guidelines or the agreement may be set aside.
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