Child Support
In many cases, the Child Support Guidelines can assist parties in determining the appropriate amount of child support payable. The child support table look-up (link to www.justice.gc.ca/eng/fl-df/child-enfant/look-rech.asp ) will help you find the base amount of child support payable. However, there are situations where this may not be the final payable support amount. Often, there are special and extraordinary expenses to be shared, such as child care expenses. Shared custody can also result in a varied child support amount. The table amount of child support payable may be adjusted to reflect the amount of time that each parent cares for the children.


Divorce/Separation Agreements
There are three grounds for obtaining a divorce in Canada: a separation of one year, physical or mental cruelty, and adultery. The most common ground used to obtain a divorce is a one year separation.

Parties may use this time as an opportunity to negotiate a separation agreement. A separation agreement is a legally binding contract intended to resolve any and all aspects of separation. This may include child custody and access, division of property, child and spousal support, and division of property.

A separation agreement can be prepared based on a successful mediation, or through lawyers’ negotiation.


Custody and Access
If you have children, determining the custody and/or access arrangements for the children will be one of the most important issues to navigate during your separation. Determining your children’s best interests, and making the transition as easy as possible for them should be your top priority.

One of the most common questions is about the difference between sole and joint custody. However, there are many different types of custody arrangements:

Sole custody means that one parent makes all major decisions about the children, including healthcare, education, and religious decisions. The other parent exercises access to the children, so that they maintain emotional connections.

Joint custody means that both parents share in making major decisions about the children, including healthcare, education, and religious decisions.

Shared custody exists when children live with each parent at least 40 per cent of the time. The parents share in the care and responsibility of the children. In these circumstances, special provisions apply to the calculation of child support, depending on the amount of time children spend with each parent.

Split custody is possible where there is more than one child, and each parent has custody of at least one child.


Spousal Support
Spousal support is often awarded to provide a lower income spouse with an opportunity to become self-sufficient. It can also be compensation to a lower income spouse who has sacrificed employment and income opportunities for the benefit of the family unit. The length of time that spousal support is payable for varies. Typically, the shorter the marriage, the shorter the spousal support obligation is. If the marriage has been more than 20 years in length, spousal support may be a lifetime obligation.

Spousal support amounts are determined using the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/fl-df/spousal-epoux/ss-pae.html). These guidelines provide an appropriate and flexible range for determining spousal support amounts. This is typically presented as a low, mid, or high range. The appropriate amount of support is then determined by examining many factors such as: income disparity, length of marriage, health, age, work history/education, and future employment prospects.