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How do I terminate my spousal support payments? Variation of Spousal Support

Legislation and Jurisprudence: Everything You Need to Know About Variation Orders for Spousal Support

Spousal support is a sensitive and complex issue that often arises after the breakdown of a marriage or common-law relationship.

When a spousal support order is made, it is based on the specific circumstances of the parties at that time. However, circumstances can change over time, and what was once a fair and reasonable order may become unjust or unworkable.

In such cases, a variation order may be necessary to change, suspend or terminate a spousal support order. In this article, we will explore the legislation and jurisprudence surrounding variation orders for spousal support.

The Family Law Act, SBC 2011 c. 25 and the Divorce Act, RSC 1985, c 3 (2nd Supp) provide the legislative framework for variation orders in British Columbia. Under these acts, a court of competent jurisdiction may make an order varying, rescinding, or suspending a support order or any provision of one, on application by either or both former spouses. Before making an order, the court must be satisfied that a change in the condition, means, needs, or other circumstances of either former spouse has occurred since the making of the spousal support order or the last variation order made in respect of that order.

The court must also take into consideration any economic advantages or disadvantages to the former spouses arising from the marriage or its breakdown, apportion between the former spouses any financial consequences arising from the care of any child of the marriage over and above any obligation for the support of any child of the marriage, relieve any economic hardship of the former spouses arising from the breakdown of the marriage, and promote the economic self-sufficiency of each former spouse within a reasonable period of time.

However, if an order requires payment of spousal support for a definite period or until a specified event occurs, the court may not make an order for the purpose of resuming spousal support unless satisfied that the order is necessary to relieve economic hardship that arises from a change in circumstances related to the relationship between the spouses, and the changed circumstances, had they existed at the time the order was made, would likely have resulted in a different order.


In Powell v Levesque, 2014 BCCA 33, Madam Justice Smith reiterated the two-fold test for variation of a support order. The Court stated that before the court makes a variation order in respect of a spousal support order:

the court be satisfied that a change in the condition, means, needs, or other circumstances of either former spouse has occurred since the making of the spousal support order

- AND -

The court must also determine whether the change of circumstances is a material one, meaning a change that, if known at the time, would likely have resulted in different terms. The proper approach is to examine whether the change, if established, would have made a difference in the initial order.

This is just scratching the surface of how our lawyers at SiLaw Group Family Lawyers would approach the question of whether you can not terminate or reduce your spousal support payments. Book instantly for an appointment to speak to one of our British Columbia Best Divorce Lawyer for a free 30 minute consultation.

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