Spousal Support and Child Custody Arrangements

Custody vs. Parenting Responsibilities, Parenting Arrangements and Parenting Time

Custody is a concept under the Federal Divorce Act, whereas under the Provincial Family Law Act, the terms parenting responsibilities, parenting arrangements and parenting time are used.

Under both Federal and Provincial laws, judges make decisions with respect to custody and parenting by considering the best interests of the child. Under section 37 of the Family Law Act, a court will consider the following factors in assessing what is in the best interests of the child:

  1. the child's health and emotional well-being;
  2. the child's views, unless it would be inappropriate to consider them;
  3. the nature and strength of the relationships between the child and significant persons in the child's life;
  4. the history of the child's care;
  5. the child's need for stability, given the child's age and stage of development;
  6. the ability of each person who is a guardian or seeks guardianship of the child, or who has or seeks parental responsibilities, parenting time or contact with the child, to exercise his or her responsibilities;
  7. the impact of any family violence on the child's safety, security or well-being, whether the family violence is directed toward the child or another family member;
  8. whether the actions of a person responsible for family violence indicate that the person may be impaired in his or her ability to care for the child and meet the child's needs;
  9. the appropriateness of an arrangement that would require the child's guardians to cooperate on issues affecting the child, including whether requiring cooperation would increase any risks to the safety, security or well-being of the child or other family members;
  10. any civil or criminal proceeding relevant to the child's safety, security or well-being.

Visit the following links for more information regarding custody and parenting under provincial and federal laws:



If you have any questions with respect to your rights and obligations with respect to custody and parenting, feel free to contact us. We have the patience, skill-set and experience to handle any matters related to custody and parenting, and will be happy to explain your rights and responsibilities to you.

Spousal Support

Spousal support, also referred to as “maintenance” refers to financial assistance provided by one former spouse to another to help with living expenses after separation. Spousal support is intended recognize the financial disadvantage faced by one spouse because of the separation and to ensure that neither party suffers financially as a result of the separation. In essence, spousal support ensures that the party with less or no income of their own is not left burdened by the breakup.

Spousal support is suitable when one party has a higher income than the other – the greater the gap, the greater the amount of support. Spousal support can be put in place by agreement between the parties, or if an agreement cannot be reached, a party may apply for a court order.

Your entitlement spousal support depends on a number of factors, specifically:

  • Whether or not both parties were employed during the relationship;
  • How long the parties have lived together;
  • Whether or not one party stayed at home taking care of children;
  • Whether or not one party is able to support themselves;
  • Your relative incomes; and
  • Whether or not the party being asked to pay spousal support is able to do so.

To help you get an idea as to what support a party may be entitled to, the Federal Government has published Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines: http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/fl-lf/spousal-epoux/spag/pdf/SSAG_eng.pdf

If you have questions regarding support or need advice or assistance in obtaining, determining, or avoiding support, please feel free to contact us.

Child Support

Couples with children who separate must consider the financial needs of their children. Child support is money provided by one parent to another in order to ensure that the child is taken care of, and parents have a legal duty to support their children regardless of who has custody and the parenting arrangements in place. Although paid from one party to another, the child is entitled to the support. In other words, if one parent has custody, they cannot negotiate away child support with the other parent. For divorcing couples, a judge is unable to grant a divorce unless satisfied that there are arrangements in place to properly support the child.

Although the principles behind child support are relatively straight-forward, their application can become quite complex. Contrary to popular belief, child support payments go above and beyond the basic living needs of the child, and can include special or extraordinary expenses that go above and beyond the regular cost of living and include the costs of post-secondary education, tutoring, private school and other extra-curricular activities if the child excels in a particular area.

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