Spousal Support

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Entitlement to Support?

Entitlement for spousal support arises when there is a disparity in the incomes of spouses as a result of circumstances created during the course of the spousal relationship and especially when that disparity is occasioned by the circumstances of the marriage or spousal relationship.

According to the law, spouses are entitled to support on a need basis, and so long the other spouse is capable of paying. The objectives of spousal support are generally to

  1. recognize any economic advantages or disadvantages to the spouses arising from the marriage or its breakdown;
  2. apportion between the spouses any financial consequences arising from the care of any child of the marriage over and above any obligation for the support of any child of the marriage;
  3. relieve any economic hardship of the spouses arising from the breakdown of the marriage; and
  4. in so far as practicable, promote the economic self-sufficiency of each spouse within a reasonable period of time.

Determination of Support Payable

Based on d) above, it must therefore be noted that spousal support is not to substitute for self-reliance of a spouse, as the law expects that you or your spouse should attain self-reliance within a reasonable timeframe. As such, spousal support is commonly awarded for only a limited period. The courts will consider the following in deciding whether to award spousal support and what amount to award if the circumstances favour an award:

  1. the length of time the spouses cohabited;
  1. the functions performed by each spouse during cohabitation;
  1. any order, agreement or arrangement relating to support of either spouse;
  1. the age and the physical and mental health of the spouses;
  1. the measures available for the dependent spouse to become financially independent and the length of time and cost involved to enable the dependent spouse to take those measures; and
  1. the legal obligation of the respondent to provide maintenance for any other person.

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