Spousal support, sometimes called “alimony”, is money paid from one spouse to the other after the dissolution of the relationship. The obligation to pay spousal support is a legal one, and may arise either from a marriage, or from a common-law relationship.
Spousal support, unlike child support, is not an automatic right. When you and your partner separate, you could be entitled to spousal support, especially if your partner’s income is higher than yours and you could be left in a worst financial position than your partner after the separation.
The purpose of spousal support is threefold:
Therefore, spousal support and the obligation to provide it will depend on various factors:
The courts typically use the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (“SSAGs”) to decide how much spousal support should be paid and the duration of those payments. As these are just guidelines, courts can vary the suggested payments based on individual case circumstances.
To be eligible for spousal support, you need to meet the definition of spouse in connection with your ex-partner, which can occur in one of two ways, as defined by the Family Law Act:
According to section 1(1) of the Family Law Act, a “spouse” means a person who is married or entered a marriage.
An expanded definition of “spouse” is found in section 29 of the Family Law Act, which applies only with respect to the support obligations, and is defined as:
There are three ways to be entitled to spousal support, as alluded to above:
The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAGs) are guidelines which the courts use, that can help you and your partner decide how much spousal support should be paid and for how long. These are only guidelines, not laws. A judge can order more or less support than what the guidelines say. The SSAGs use 2 different formulas. One is for partners who have no children together. The other is for partners who have children together. The formulas calculate a range of low, middle, and high support amounts, as well as the length of time spousal support might be paid.
Practically, the amount of spousal support and how long it is paid for will depend on many factors including:
Support amounts are usually higher, and paid longer, where:
The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines recognize categories of departures from the ranges under the formulas. The exceptions as set out by MySupportCalculator.ca, under the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines are as follows:
4. Illness and Disability:
5. Compensatory Exception in Short Marriages Without Children:
6. Property Division, Reapportionment of Property:
7. Basic Needs/Hardship: Without Child Support, Custodial Payor Formulas:
8. Non-Taxable Payor Income:
9. Non-Primary Parent to Fulfill Parenting Role under the Custodial Payor Formula:
10. Special Needs of Child:
11. Section 15.3: Small Amounts, Inadequate Compensation under the With Child Support Formula:
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