Am I Entitled to Spousal Support?

Are you entitled to spousal support? Are you looking to speak with a family lawyer about if you are entitled to spousal support? We will fill you in on the major factors that determine if you or your spouse should receive or pay spousal support.

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Entitled to Spousal Support

You may be considered a “spouse” under the laws of Ontario even if you are not married. There are various definitions of being a “spouse.”

The three most common situations where someone is called a spouse are:

  • Have lived together for more than three years
  • Are not married, live together, and have child through birth or adoption
  • Two people are legally married under the laws of Canada
  • If one spouse has enough money to support the other spouse
  • If the spouse that is asked for support can take care of themselves
  • How long they have been together
  • The age of the two parties
  • How much income both parties make

*Whether a family law judge will rule that one spouse is entitled to spousal support from the other spouse will depend on a number of factors. Spousal support will be determined on a case by case basis.

Questions our family lawyers get asked most about if someone is entitled to spousal support:

  1. What is spousal support?

Spousal support is the same thing as alimony. Alimony is the term they use in the USA. Most people hear the term in the movies. One spouse pays the other a monthly amount of money, or a lump sum, to allow the other spouse to take care of themselves and maintain a similar lifestyle as before the breakup or divorce.

  1. Am I guaranteed to get spousal support?

Nothing is guaranteed in the court system. There is no legal entitlement to spousal support. The spouse that is requesting it must prove that they need it or that they deserve it. Your family lawyer will do their best to represent your needs and wants.

  1. If I get spousal support how long will it go on for?

This will be determined by a family law judge on a case by case basis. It is best to have spousal support agreed upon before getting married or moving in together. This would be done in a marriage agreement (prenup) or a co-habitation agreement. We prefer lump sum payments for spousal support as you don’t need to worry about getting paid every month. This sometimes is not possible. If you can agree to the terms of the spousal support in the separation agreement, it should be possible to avoid the family law court. Our family law firm can help you with marriage, co-hab agreements, and separation agreements.

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Things get more complicated if one of the spouses suffered a financial loss due the relationship. A common example of this is if one spouse quits their job in order to take care of the kids and/or house. Another example might be that the spouse had to leave their high paying job to move for the other spouse. The amount of spousal support might be affected if it is likely that the spouse can get their high paying job back.

  1. How does the spouse’s behaviour affect spousal support?

Unlike child support the spouses behaviour does not often affect the spousal support entitlement. More important is the set of circumstances (income, location, length of relationship, role in the relationship…etc)

As you can see, family law is very complicated. Our family lawyers are available to help you defend against a spousal support claim, or to submit a spousal support claim for you.

Read more: Retirement and Spousal Support

Are you being asked to pay spousal support? Are you entitled to spousal support?

  1. Contact us via the live chat function
  2. Call our toll free line noon-8pm EST – 844-466-6LAW (529)
  3. Fill out the contact form on the website

Our law firm uses Divorcemate software to calculate how much spousal or child support you can expect to pay or receive based on your circumstance. When you meet with your family lawyer for the first time, you can expect to answer a lot of questions, and the lawyer will put the information in the calculator.

The courts often use similar software. These are guidelines, but rulings from a family law judge can vary.

Is it more likely that a man will have to pay spousal support?

Officially, men or women must pay spousal support if ordered to do so by the family law court. However, our family lawyers have rarely seen an order from a judge where a female must pay the male spousal support. We recognize that there may be gender bias in the family law courts. This could however be because men often earn higher salaries than females, which is often the most important factor in determining spousal support.

Retirement and Spousal Support

You have worked hard for the past 30 years.  Finally you are ready to hang up the work clothes and enjoy your retirement. You wonder if your ex is still entitled to spousal support. You’ve also never missed a spousal support payment to your ex. You are thinking that you’ve paid them more than enough already. So what’s next for your spousal support order now? You know that your income is being lowered to your retirement funds and pension. Your family lawyer can walk you through your specific options. This will insure that you are able to afford your retirement. You will also be able to afford any outstanding spousal support obligations you may have.

Deal with Spousal Support

The first step would be to revisit your separation agreement or family court order dealing with spousal support. In cases where the spousal support was determined to be an indefinite payment for you to make, you will likely have to provide updated changes to your income. You can try to negotiate a lower rate with your ex, or go to family court to revisit the issue. The court will allow you to present your case to why spousal support should be changed. You will have to show the changes in your income and that the changes are long term. You might be planning on retiring from your business but you want to open a part time consulting firm. The court is likely going to want you to provide your updated income from your retirement business before they lower your support amount.

Toronto Family Lawyers

When you retire there is no automatic reduction to your spousal support. This is unless you have included a clause to the same effect in your court order or separation agreement. You should not sit back and stop making payments. This is true even if your ex can no longer contact your employer to collect on missed support payments. If you are receiving pension payouts from a private or public pension, your ex can still contact those banks or investment groups and still enforce your spousal support order.

You might have spoken to your ex and they have verbally agreed to your proposed lowering or ending of spousal support. You should still have some sort of written agreement drawn up.  Your family lawyer can do this to ensure that you can enforce such an agreement in the future. If you have questions about if your ex is entitled to spousal support, contact us.

Call our Toronto law firm toll free at 844-466-6LAW (529)