Spousal Support is an extremely complex area of family law. Prior to 2005, there was little consistency or predictability in determining spousal support awards.
In 2005 Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAG) were developed by professors Carol Rogerson and Rollie Thompson. The final draft was completed in 2008.
Unlike the Child Support Guidelines, the SSAG are not legislated. They are informal guidelines that operate on an advisory basis only. As stated by Rogerson and Thompson:
"the Advisory Guidelines are used to determine the amount and duration of spousal support within the existing legal framework of the Divorce Act and the judicial decisions interpreting its provisions. They are intended as a practical tool to assist spouses, lawyers, mediators and judges in determining the amount and duration of spousal support in typical cases. The various components of the Guidelines — the basic formulas, restructuring, and exceptions — are intended to build upon current practice, reflecting best practices and emerging trends across the country."
While the SSAG have proved to be extremely helpful in resolving spousal support disputes, they do not address the issue of entitlement and there are numerous exceptional circumstances for which the SSAG do not apply. Nevertheless, lawyers, mediators and judges have come to rely heavily on the guidelines to resolve the vast majority of cases.