Will the standard child and spousal support guidelines apply to high net-worth individuals?
In both Alberta and British Columbia, the Federal Child Support Guidelines and the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines are the starting point for calculating support amounts. However, calculating the appropriate amount of child support becomes more complex when applied to high net-worth families, especially when the payor's income exceeds $350,000.
Principles for High-Income Spousal Support Cases
For spousal support, in particular, caselaw establishes several principles for structuring awards where the payor's income surpasses this ceiling. While the standard without-child and with-child support formulas may not be automatically applied, they can sometimes serve as appropriate benchmarks depending on the specific facts of the case. Above the $350,000 income level, each case demands an individualized, fact-specific analysis that involves detailed evidence and argument.
Notably, the $350,000 threshold is not an absolute cap. Spousal support often increases when the payor’s income surpasses this limit. The application of the standard guidelines becomes more flexible and less predictable at higher income levels.
Considerations Beyond Standard Guidelines
Child support calculations can similarly diverge from the standard guidelines when incomes are exceptionally high. The courts will examine whether payment of child support based solely on the standard guideline results in what is essentially a transfer of wealth from one parent to the other. These cases often involve complex evaluations, potentially looking beyond standard tables and incorporating judicial discretion based on factors like the child’s unique needs, the payor’s ability to pay, and the lifestyles available to each of the households in question.
High net-worth individuals often have diversified income streams, such as dividends, trust disbursements, or capital gains, which may require specialized consideration. Lawyers well-versed in high net-worth separations frequently collaborate with financial experts to ensure fair and accurate determinations for both child and spousal support. To determine the actual income that should be used in an examination of support, it may be necessary to complete a guideline income analysis.
Free Consultation with Crossroads Law
Given the stakes involved, it's strongly advised to seek out a legal expert with specific experience in high net-worth separations to guide you through this challenging time. The lawyers at Crossroads Law have experience handing the complex needs that arise in this area. If you need support with your high net-worth separation, book a free consultation with Crossroads Law today.