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Most families while together, function as a single economic unit. What this means is that both parents’ incomes contribute directly to the support of everyone in the family, and so differences between the parents’ relative incomes are often not a concern for anyone. At separation, this all changes. Child and Spousal Support is considered in law as a right of the child, not as a right of the parents. As a result, parents’ financial obligations to their children do not end or even diminish after separation, and parents are not allowed to contract out of those obligations. Those support obligations simply continue under different circumstances, of the parents living apart.
At separation the parents may be abruptly disengaged financially from each other when one leaves, or, they may want to become financially independent from each other in a controlled way by agreement. If this transition was left to chance and no rules applied, it would have significant and unpredictable negative financial impacts on children. For these reasons, the law provides for fairly clear guidelines and rules on how each parent’s financial obligations to their children continue after they separate. An experienced child support lawyer will help you understand your rights and obligations as a parent. As is the case in most areas of family law, each family and each situation is different. With a comprehensive understanding of the law, Leamy Family Law will discuss your circumstances and options in detail, educate you on the law that applies, prioritize your goals, and develop a plan to move your family forward with the proper financial support your children are entitled to.
Couples, whether they have children or not, often take on very different day-to-day roles in their relationship. Those different roles will often directly, and sometimes profoundly, impact each person’s ability to be financially self-supporting if they separate. For example, a spouse who puts a career on hold to raise children at home (while the other spouse works full time) will be less employable in the market over time as a result of that role, while their spouse’s value in the market will be enhanced. At times, issues of health, disability or other incapacities can also affect a person’s ability to support themselves financially. People’s capacities to support themselves, or to work towards a higher income earning potential, are also affected by their ages and their place in life and career. Separating spouses continue to have obligations to assist their former spouse to transition to financial independence according to the law. Those continuing obligations are often very substantial. It does not matter in law if spouses are same-sex, married or unmarried, or whether a man or a woman is asking for spousal support, the law applies equally to everyone. Also, when a couple with children separates, child support will be considered as a first priority before spousal support.
Determining spousal support requires consideration of many factors. You should have an experienced spousal support lawyer with a well developed understanding of the law. As a result, the courts (and negotiating former spouses) have a significant degree of discretion in considering all the past and present circumstances in coming to a resolution. Leamy Family Law understands these considerations and we advise our clients towards a full understanding of how their specific circumstances fit into the law and impact spousal support negotiations and resolutions.
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