Spousal Support

Spouses have mutual supporting obligations for each other. A couple immediately assumes that mutual responsibility when they get married. If they stay together, responsibility emerges when they are in a permanent relationship. If they have a child together after three years of cohabitation or earlier, the responsibility is also present. Once you face a divorce, spousal support may be part of your case, it’s crucial to understand how it works in Canada.

What is spousal support in Canada?

Spousal support is money paid from one spouse to another spouse after a separation or divorce. Maintenance or alimony are other names for it. There are several variables that can influence whether a married or common-law partner has the right to alimony. The law determines how much support they can get.

Under the Federal Divorce Act, spousal support is considered if the couple is married and seeking divorce. Otherwise, Provincial Family Law Act regulates spousal support in Ontario. In either case, the substantive principles are identical. The purpose of the law is to counterbalance fairly the economic consequences of spousal relationships. Relevant factors affecting spousal support in Canada include the length of the relationship and the financial circumstances of the parties. Roles fulfilled while together, especially the raising of children are also factors.

Some partners believe that they will receive large amounts of money every month automatically. On the other hand, their counterparts assume their former partners get money for doing nothing. In Canada, spousal support is not so simple. It requires an expert lawyer’s guidance who specializes in the area of Family Law.

Whichever partner earns more pays the support to the partner who earns less. The recipient of the support is the person who receives support. The payor of support is the person who pays the support.

The main objective of spousal support is to: 

  • recognize the contributions of each partner to the relationship; 
  • make things easy for a partner who has lost the relationship financially. For example, one partner may not have continued their career so they could take care of the kids and are unable to support themselves immediately; share the cost of caring for the kids; 
  • relieve financial hardship; 
  • help a partner to support themselves. 

There are three wide spousal support models: contractual, compensatory, and support based on needs. Each model underlies three distinct support bases. In the compensatory model, the spouse compensated has endured economic disadvantages as a result of the marriage. The contractual model orders support in any expressed or implied agreement between spouses to create or limit mutual support obligations. A spouse is also compensated if they contributed to the other spouse’s economic advantage. In the needs-based model, the spouse who is unable to independently support themself at the end of a relationship receives support.

Remember that you do not automatically receive this money. You can only obtain support if you have the right to it. Even then, the law expects you to attempt supporting yourself after separation as soon as possible. You and your partner can try to reach a spousal support agreement. 

If spousal support is your area of concern, speak to a lawyer at Kazembe & Associates to handle your situation.

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