What is spousal support and how is it decided upon?

Spouses, husband and wife, holding hands while drinking coffee

In Ontario, a spousal relationship is viewed as an economic or financial partnership. When you and your partner decide to separate or divorce, either one of you may or may not be eligible to receive spousal support. Spousal support can be a tricky and complicated process as many factors can impact it, and can be hard to define due to the variety of forms it comes in. If you and your partner are separating or divorcing, this is what you need to know about spousal support and how it works.

What is spousal support?

Spousal support is the money one partner pays to another after the marriage or relationship ends. It was created to lessen the financial hardship on a spouse or common-law partner who was financially dependant on the other during the marriage or relationship. Typically, when someone wants to receive spousal support, they were and currently are earning less than their partner and need financial assistance to maintain a reasonable lifestyle. If you might have a right to receive spousal support, it’s important to know that it is not automatically granted. Meaning if you want to receive spousal support, you need to request to be granted spousal support from the court or you need an agreement that it will be paid.

How is spousal support decided upon?

This is where spousal support can get complicated. The decision as to whether a spouse is entitled to spousal support is dependant on several factors including:

  • The length of the relationship.
  • The age and health of the spouse.
  • What it would take for the dependant spouse to become independent.
  • The roles played by each spouse throughout the relationship.
  • The ability of one spouse to support the other.
  • Whether there are dependant children still living at home.

All these factors and more play a role in both the decision of spousal support being granted and how much is owed to one partner from the other. Each case of spousal support is unique and completely depends on the individual situation. Determining the amount can be complicated and in most cases, spouses don’t usually agree on the amount of spousal support due, so it can be a long process to decide who is owed what.

The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines helps predict the range of spousal support and is a helpful guide. It is not binding on you but it helps determine a reasonable amount. Our lawyers use a computer program that helps us determine the range of outcome under the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines.  We can help you determine how much you might have to pay or might expect to receive.

If you need assistance getting the spousal support you need, or if you are trying to avoid paying spousal support that is too high for you to be able to afford, we can help you at Galbraith Family Law.

Our experienced family lawyers can evaluate your situation and give you options as to how you can move forward. If you are seeking spousal support, we can help you evaluate if you are eligible and if so for how much. If you are on the other end of the spousal support relationship, we can evaluate if you owe spousal support and if so how much you might need to pay. Whichever the case, contact our confidential client care team today to book your consultation by calling our Barrie office at 705-230-2734, our Newmarket office at 289-210-4692, or our Toronto offices at 647-370-8965. We look forward to helping you reduce the stress and complications in your family law issue while helping resolve your matter with heart.

Brian Galbraith

Brian Galbraith is the owner and founder of Galbraith Family Law Professional Corporation. Brian is known in the legal community for his commitment to efficiently practicing family law using technology and streamlining the divorce processes.

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