Spousal Support

Ontario law regards the spousal relationship as an economic partnership. Therefore, in some cases, the spouse earning a higher income may have to pay spousal support to the other spouse in order to allow the spouse with lower income to “get back on their feet.” At the same time, the spouse who earns less income, or no income at all, has an obligation to take steps to become self-sufficient over time, once the relationship ends.

Spousal Support Entitlement and Amount

While the government provides some advisory guidelines for determining an appropriate range of support, these amounts are not set in stone. In fact, before any calculations of spousal support are completed, entitlement to spousal support must first be determined. Whether a spouse is or is not entitled to support depends on a number of factors and is generally determined on the facts of each case. Some of the factors that will determine entitlement to support, as well as the duration of the support obligation, include:

  • The length of the relationship
  • The roles played by each spouse throughout the relationship
  • The age of the spouses at the time of separation
  • The ability of one spouse to support the other
  • The ability of the recipient spouse to become self-sufficient

At Russell Alexander Family Lawyers, our focus is exclusively on family-related matters. As a result, our lawyers have a thorough knowledge of the case law surrounding spousal support and the appropriate methods for advancing a claim for support.

How to terminate spousal support?

Terminating spousal support involves a court determining significant changes in circumstances like the financial condition, needs, or other relevant factors of either spouse, since the original order was issued (as stated in section 17 of the Divorce Act). Therefore, termination isn’t universal, but rather hinges on the unique facts and developments of each individual case.

In addition to helping clients secure spousal support payments from their former spouse, we have also helped clients who feel that they should no longer continue paying support. For example, when a former spouse receives a promotion or raise, enters into a new relationship, or has otherwise had an opportunity to become self-sufficient but has failed to do so, spousal support may no longer be justified. In these cases, our lawyers can advocate for the termination of the support obligation on your behalf.

How Long Do I Have to Be Able to Claim Support?

How much time do you have to make a claim for support? The Divorce Act does not place a limitation period on making a claim for spousal support. Therefore, even if you have already separated from your spouse, or obtained a divorce, you may still be eligible to claim spousal support. If you are in this situation and need help advancing your position, please contact us for more information.

How to avoid spousal support?

Avoiding spousal support often requires negotiation during the divorce settlement process. Through amicable discussion, both parties may reach an agreement where spousal support is waived. However, this typically involves a trade-off, where the party requesting the waiver of spousal support offers something of equal value in return. Thus, avoiding spousal support is reliant on mutual agreement and negotiation, rather than a one-sided decision.