Spousal Support


If you are considering separation, or have already separated from your spouse, you may be eligible for spousal support payments. Spousal support payments are usually made from the higher earning spouse to the lower earning spouse for the purposes of:

  • Ensuring the payee does not face financial hardship
  • Recognizing any unpaid work the payee did throughout the relationship
  • Assisting the payee in becoming financially independent
  • Assisting in the financial costs of raising a child

To be eligible for spousal support payments you must have been either married or living together as common-law for 3 years. If you have had a child with someone and have been living together in a relationship with “some permanence”, you may also be eligible for spousal support payments.

Spousal Support Payments

A separation agreement is the simplest way to determine the amount for spousal support payments. This agreement is usually made with the assistance of a lawyer or mediator and may also include arrangements for child support, custody and property division. If an agreement cannot be reached in this manner the assistance of an arbitrator or judge may be required. Judges use many factors to determine the amount and duration of spousal support payments, which may include:

  • length of relationship
  • if there are children
  • the role of each spouse during the relationship
  • the age of each spouse
  • the financial situation of each spouse
  • to compensate the lower earning spouse for any earning power lost during the relationship
  • that the person receiving payments has the obligation to become financial self-sufficient, where possible, in a reasonable amount of time

The judge may also take into consideration Canada’s Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines.

Sometimes the courts may decide that the lower earning spouse is not entitled to any spousal support payments. This is usually based on any assets they may have, or if the difference in income is not linked to anything that occurred during the duration of the relationship.

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