By Danielle Leonard
In Ontario, more than 40 per cent of marriages end before reaching the 30th anniversary, according to Stats Canada. And, this past month, January, has routinely been the preferred month for couples to start down the road to divorce. Unfortunately, navigating through the financial and legal quagmire that follows can be overwhelming and costly.
More and more couples are choosing a DIY approach to their separation in an effort to curb legal bills and maintain control over how they shape their post-separation arrangement. MySupportCalculator offers an online resource for Canadian couples seeking accurate guidance on child and spousal support.
The calculator, found at www.mysupportcalculator.ca, is powered by DivorceMate Software Inc. – the software used by family law professionals for accurate child and spousal support calculations.
“Although the government provides an online calculator for basic table amount of child support, they have nothing for spousal support which is a complex calculation,” explains Faith Feldman, a former family lawyer and general manager for MySupportCalculator. “This calculator applies the federal Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines, known as SSAG, to determine a range of spousal support amounts and durations based on the information inputted. While not mandatory, most judges and lawyers follow the SSAG.”
There are two levels of calculations available to users. The basic calculation is a free service that provides calculations for those who earn income through employment only, and do not incur special expenses, such as extracurricular activities or daycare for dependents.
The Advantage level calculator, which costs $29.95 for unlimited access to the service for six months, is for those with additional calculation needs. For example, anyone who earns income through means other than employment, such as self-employment, should use this level. Additionally, it is recommended that couples with special expenses such as childcare, education, or extracurricular activities use the Advantage level calculator.
After keying data into the calculator, the user receives a report indicating three possible spousal support payments at the low, mid and high points of the range. For each point of the range, there are accompanying calculations for child support and special expenses.
“There is no single black and white calculation,” says Feldman. “That’s the same in all of Ontario. Legal professionals always work within a range.”
The reports include several pages of explanations to help make sense of each calculation. In fact, according to Feldman, if the spouse has inputted his or her information accurately, the report can be used as a reference in court or when meeting with a lawyer.
MySupportCalculator can be useful during any stage of separation or divorce. The reasons for using the calculator include:
A spouse is contemplating divorce and wants to know approximately how it will affect each spouse financially
A couple has already separated and wants to determine separation details without lawyers
A spouse has retained a lawyer but wants to save costs by preparing and researching aspects of the separation independently
One or both spouses are self-representing in court
For couples facing separation or divorce, this online resource can offer clarification on support payments and the legal obligations surrounding them, without the high legal bill.