Rule of 65

What is the ‘Rule of 65’?

Spousal support in Alberta can be a very complicated issue as there are multiple steps and considerations to determining appropriate support, one of which is the “Rule of 65”.  The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines provide guidance for how Courts in Alberta will determine whether a party is entitled to spousal support, and what the appropriate quantum and duration of that support should be.  The ‘Rule of 65’ speaks specifically to duration of spousal support, after entitlement has already been proven.  The Guidelines also provides for the “Rule of 65”, which states that if the years of marriage plus the age of the support recipient at the time of separation equals or exceeds 65, then spousal support may be paid indefinitely.

Applicability of the ‘Rule of 65’

Once a party has proven entitlement to spousal support, then the Court has to consider the duration (the length of time support should be paid) and the quantum (the amount of support that should be paid).  The ‘Rule of 65’ is a factor in determining the duration of support.  Spousal support may be paid indefinitely if the ‘Rule of 65’ is met. 

There is an important exception to the ‘Rule of 65’ however, in the case of a short marriage.  The Guidelines consider a short marriage to be one that is under 5 years in length.  If the marriage was shorter than 5 years, even if the ‘Rule of 65’ is met, the Rule does not apply and spousal support would not be indefinite.

Indefinite duration does not mean spousal support is to be paid forever.  Indefinite duration means that there is no defined period that the spousal support will end.  The spousal support will be subject to review and variation as required as the circumstances and needs of the parties change.  The Guidelines provide for another situation when indefinite duration can be ordered, when the marriage was 20 years in length or longer. 

It is always important to keep in mind however that the ‘Rule of 65’ provides guidance on the duration for spousal support, an individual must still prove entitlement to spousal support before moving onto the analysis of quantum and duration of support.

Written by Michael Ross

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