Family Law – Am I Entitled to Interim Spousal Support?

If you are separating or divorcing, you may be entitled to an order for interim spousal support – an order for spousal support before a final order settling divorce, property, support, childcare and other matters.

In Zhang v. He, 2018 BCSC 1622, the court detailed the principles that the Court must consider and applied those principles to find that the claimant was entitled to interim spousal support.

The Court began the spousal support analysis by stating the objectives in determining spousal support from both the Family Law Act (BC) and the federal Divorce Act:

(a) to recognize any economic advantages or disadvantages to the spouses arising from the relationship between the spouses or the breakdown of that relationship;
(b) to apportion between the spouses any financial consequences arising from the care of their child, beyond the duty to provide support for the child;
(c) to relieve any economic hardship of the spouses arising from the breakdown of the relationship between the spouses;
(d) as far as practicable, to promote the economic self-sufficiency of each spouse within a reasonable period of time (at para 19).

The Court then noted that the principles applicable on an application for interim spousal support are:

  1. The applicant’s needs and the respondent’s ability to pay assume greater significance;
  2. An interim support order should be sufficient to allow the applicant to continue living at the same standard of living enjoyed prior to separation if the payor’s ability to pay warrants it;
  3. On interim support applications the court does not embark on an in depth analysis of the parties’ circumstances which is best left for trial;
  4.  The courts should not unduly emphasise any one of the statutory considerations set out above;
  5. On interim orders the need to achieve self-sufficiency is often of less significance; and
  6.  Interim support should be ordered within the range suggested by the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines unless exceptional circumstances indicate otherwise (at para 23).

In applying the above principles, the Court awarded the Claimant interim spousal support on the grounds that:

  • the claimant left a well-paying job in China to move to Canada, and the decision to move was a joint decision after the parties married;
  • the claimant’s English was lacking and she intended to upgrade her education to acquire employment skills and improve her English;
  • neither party would be able to continue living to the same standard as when they were still together; and
  • the respondent was well educated and the parties’ child was in daycare, so the respondent would be able to work while the claimant attended school (at paras. 24 – 30).

In all the circumstances, the claimant was found to have income of $18,000.00 and the respondent was found to have income of $118,968.00 (at para 31). The court found that the respondent must pay the claimant interim spousal support in the “low range” and awarded the claimant $1,105.00 per month until agreement of the parties or further order of the Court.

If you would like to book an appointment with any of our family law lawyers, namely Kathleen Sugiyama, Christopher Murphy or Nathan Seaward, please contact Heath Law LLP at 250-753-2202 or TOLL FREE: 1-866-753-2202.