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What are my legal responsibilities regarding paying him?

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Anonymous Asked:

My husband has been unemployed for half of our married lives together and therefore has no RRSP or CPP contributions. He is currently unemployed and has been for the past 4 years. All unemployed time was *not* due to medical issues. I have been employed with the same company for 17 years. What are my legal responsibilities regarding paying him spousal support and half of my RRSPs, CPP, pension, TFSAs, inheritance, and so on?

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Stuart Zukerman
6 years ago

Under the BC Family Law Act there is a presumption that all assets (excluding pre relationship equity which can be traced into current equity, and inheritances which have been kept separate held in the receiving spouse’s sole name) are subject to a 50/50 division. This includes RRSPs, CPP, employment pensions, TFSAs, savings, furnishings, equity in vehicles, equity in other forms of assets, etc. The 50/50 approach applies unless the applicant can establish on a preponderance of evidence that it would be “substantially unfair” not to divide 50/50. The terms “substantially unfair” has not yet been judicially considered and interpreted though it is clear that it would require the evidence to show that it is not just unfair to have an equal division, it must be substantially unfair. Spousal support obligations will be presumptively decided based on an application of the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines. On a long term marriage (say over 10 -12 years) the guideline formula would generally be calculated by taking the income differential between the spouses (take the higher income earner’s annual income and subtract the lower income earners annual income) then multiplying that difference by 2% multiplied times the number of years of marriage (up to a max of 25 years). The result is the annual amount of spousal support payable by the higher earner to the lower earner. If you divide that result by 12, then you will have the monthly amount of support payable which is tax deductible to the payor and taxable to the recipient. If the evidence establishes that your spouse is intentionally underemployed, then the court can impute an annual income to him in keeping with his capacity to earn income. If the person has a poor work history such that his historic annual income is very low, the court may impute him with an income equivalent to minimum wage (approx $24,000 per annum including 4% vacation pay) and then use that income figure when applying the guidelines.

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