There are many issues often at play when a married couple chooses to end their union. In a high asset divorce, one common issue is spousal support. Many Alberta payers assume that spousal support payments will automatically end when their former spouse remarries or finds employment, but this is not always the case. While courts may rule to reduce or end spousal support in these instances, the details of the divorce, finances and agreement between spouses can impact the end result.
Typically, a material change must take place in order for a family law ruling to be called into question and overturned. A material change must be a substantial, continuous shift in circumstances that could not have been foreseen in making the original agreement or ruling. If a judge rules that a material change has taken place, the matter may proceed in family court.
If a former spouse has a new partner, or otherwise has access to income additional to that discussed in the initial divorce, it may be ruled a material change. However, this is not guaranteed, and the existence of such a change does not automatically mean that spousal support will shift. That decision will depend largely on the original reason for the support; specifically, whether it is needs based, compensatory, or both.
If spousal support is partially or completely compensatory, Alberta family courts will need to look beyond whether the former spouse is now able to support his or her needs. Instead, the calculation will focus on the loss the spouse suffered due to the marriage ending which that individual would otherwise not have to deal with. This means that, even if a remarriage takes place, spousal support may still be required to supplement lost income resulting from the divorce. Those facing a challenge on either side of this issue resulting from a high asset divorce should speak with a lawyer about their options.
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