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Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines:
A Draft Proposal

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For those of you who have read this document from beginning to end, we know that it has been a long and winding road to get here. This Draft Proposal is admittedly complex. But spousal support raises many difficult issues. There are no simple solutions and there is no “one big formula”. That is why the Draft Proposal contains two formulas: the without child support formula and the with child support formula. The formulas generate not precise numbers but ranges for both the amount and the duration of spousal support. The without child support formula becomes even more flexible with the use of restructuring. The with child support formula adjusts for different custodial arrangements. Then there are exceptions to both formulas.

The proposal introduces many new concepts and creates new terminology. We know there is much to digest. Some aspects of the proposal will only become clear when lawyers, mediators and judges actually begin to work with and apply these advisory guidelines to real cases. This is the best way to test the advisory guidelines—to find out if they are useful, and to discover strengths and weaknesses.

With the release of the Draft Proposal, the next stage of the project begins—one of discussion, experimentation and feedback. Some of you may have immediate comments and suggestions. Others may prefer to work with the advisory guidelines for a while before offering any feedback.

We know that the proposed advisory guidelines are not perfect and we welcome your suggestions for revision. But we also ask you keep in mind the alternative—the current system with all its uncertainty and inconsistency, and the unfairness that results. Our hope is that these advisory guidelines, however imperfect, can improve the current system by providing more certainty, predictability and legitimacy for spousal support determinations.

Over the next year, we will be speaking to many groups. Initially, the main purpose will be to explain the Draft Proposal. We will also inevitably receive comments and suggestions at these sessions. We will also receive written feedback at the addresses set out below at any time during the next year. Towards the end of the year, after spouses, lawyers, mediators and judges have gained some experience with the advisory guidelines, the sessions will involve more discussion and feedback. We hope to receive your feedback by February 1, 2006. Your comments, suggestions, criticisms and proposed improvements will be considered with a view to releasing a revised version of the spousal support advisory guidelines in 2006.

Please send your comments on the Draft Proposal in writing to:

Spousal Support Project
P.O. Box 2310
Station D
Ottawa, Ontario
K1P 5W5

The authors appreciate your interest in the project. Please be assured that all comments will be considered.