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How is interim Spousal Support determined?

How is interim spousal support determined? 

The success of an interim spousal support application can be critical to determining the trajectory and ultimate outcome of the case. If the recipient is successful, then it can take the alleviate financial pressure. In addition, the success of this application can affect the parties' subsequent steps in the lawsuit including which party wishes for a full trial to re-assess the issue of spousal support.

A point to bear in mind is that evidence in an interim applications tend to be affidavit evidence (written statements). At trial, the evidence is given orally with the witness being subject to cross-examination in front of a trial judge. As is seen below, the appliaction on an interim basis is designed to essentialy provide for "rough justice".

In the case of L.E.S. v. J.C.S., 2021 BCSC 1733, the Master hearing the application summarized the principles as follows:

[64]        In Robles v. Kuhn, 2009 BCSC 1163, Master Keighley summarized the factors that should be considered on an application for interim spousal support as follows:
[12]      On interim support applications, the application of these provisions must be qualified by certain established considerations:
1.     On applications for interim support the applicant’s needs and the respondent’s ability to pay assume greater significance: Gibb v. Gibb, [2005] B.C.J. No. 2730(S.C.);
2.     An interim support order should be sufficient to allow the applicant to continue living atthe same standard of living enjoyed prior to separation if the payor’s abilityto pay warrants it: Grossi v. Grossi, [1993] B.C.J. No. 878 (S.C.);
3.     On interim support applications the court does not embark on an in-depth analysis of theparties’ circumstances, which is better left to trial. The court achieves rough justice at best: Randhawa v. Randhawa, [1999] B.C.J. No. 3299; Newsonv. Newson, [1998] B.C.J. No. 2906, 65 B.C.L.R. (3d) 22 (C.A.);
4.     The courts should not unduly emphasise any one of the statutory considerations above others;
5.     On interim applications the need to achieve economic self-sufficiency is often of less significance;
6.     Interim support should be ordered within the range suggested by the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines unless exceptional circumstances indicate otherwise: Laddv. Ladd, [2006] B.C.J. No. 1930, 2006 BCSC 1280 (S.C.);
7.     Interim support should only be ordered where it can be said a prima facie case for entitlement has been made out: LG.B. v. M.A.C.M., [2005] B.C.J. No. 2966,2005 BCSC 1786 (S.C.);
8.    Where there is a need to resolve contested issues of fact, especially those connected with a threshold issue, such as entitlement, it becomes less advisable to order interim support: L.G.B.

In the result the Court also found that:

[65]        There is no question that the claimant has made out a prima facie entitlement to interim spousal support.
[66]        The respondent’s means are such that he is fully able to pay spousal support. The claimant is in dire need.
[67]        Despite the urging of the respondent, I do not consider it reasonable to expect the claimant to be working, given all of the obstacles in her life at the moment and the fact that she has been out of the workforce for such an extended period of time. I therefore will not impute any income to her.
[68]        I do not agree, however, that a case has been made for interim support at the high end of the SSAG scale. The claimant will have spousal support from the respondent at the mid-range of the SSAG scale based on his Guideline income of $184,332 per annum and a Guideline income for her of zero.

Written by
Mark J. Chiu
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