Are you curious about how much spousal support you might be able to get? Should you even be 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.
You may be considered a “spouse” under the laws of Canada even if you are not married. There are various definitions of being a “spouse.” You can see our common law page to learn more.
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.
Below are some questions our family lawyers get asked most about if someone is entitled to spousal support. You might have other questions, therefore reach out to us to book a free consultation with an affordable family lawyer.
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.
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.
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 cohabitation 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. The affordable family lawyers can help you with marriage, co-hab agreements, and separation agreements.
How does the spouse’s behaviour affect spousal support?
Unlike child support, the spouse’s behaviour does not often affect the spousal support entitlement. Also, more important is the set of circumstances (income, location, length of the 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.
The most common situations where someone is called a spouse:
- Have lived together for more than three years
- Are not married, live together, and have a 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
Paying Spousal Support
Are you being asked to pay spousal support? Are you entitled to spousal support? The top lawyers use 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. Further, the lawyer will put the information in the calculator once they have all the details.
The courts often use similar software. However, these are guidelines, and 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.
How can someone calculate spousal support?
Things get more complicated if one of the spouses suffered a financial loss due to 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.
How do retirement and spousal support work? 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. Also, 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.
Therefore, this will ensure that you are able to afford your retirement. You will also be able to afford any outstanding spousal support obligations you may have.
Lawyers can help with separation agreements which can:
- deal with child support and spousal support
- cover the spousal support advisory guidelines
- replace spousal support orders
- calculate spousal support
- provide legal advice on family law
- see if you are entitled to spousal support
- calculate child support obligations
- help end the paying of spousal support
Support Should Be Paid
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 as to why spousal support should be changed.
You will have to show the changes in your income and that the changes are long-term. Also, 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. Further, they will do this before they lower your support amount.
Are Common-Law Partners Entitled To Spousal Support?
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.
Spousal Support After Remarriage: Till Death Do You Pay?
Have questions about Spousal Support After Remarriage? Marriage is the union of two individuals in a personal relationship that putatively lasts until death, however, in practice it is increasingly brought to an end by divorce.
Seeing that the law deems spousal relationships as financial partnerships, when divorce occurs, the individual with greater income or assets may be required to disclose support to the other.
As the Family Law Act also defines a spouse as two persons who have cohabitated for a period of no less than three years or two persons in a relationship of some permanence if they are biological or adoptive parents, unmarried cohabitating spouses may also apply for spousal support.
So what happens if your spouse was unfaithful? That should ensure entitlement to spousal support, right? Wrong! In Canada, the payment or receipt of spousal support is not established on fault and a court will not consider conducts during marriage when deciding spousal support.
Furthermore, a simple imbalance of income amongst two spouses is not an adequate justification to qualify for spousal support. Claim to spousal support needs to be established on at least one of the subsequent grounds:
Compensatory: For instance, a spouse who has foregone career opportunities to care for the couple’s children is perhaps entitled to spousal support on a compensatory basis.
Contractual: As stated in a marriage contract or separation agreement.
Non-compensatory: Needs-based (health disadvantages, career disadvantages, etc.)
Spousal Support After Remarriage
It may be redundant to ask, but why do we have spousal support? What purpose does it serve? Under the Family Law Act, an order for the support of a spouse should:
(a) recognize the spouse’s contribution to the relationship and the economic consequences of the relationship for the spouse;
(b) share the economic burden of child support equitably;
(c) make fair provision to assist the spouse to become able to contribute to his or her own support; and
(d) relieve financial hardship
Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines
In Canada, the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAGs) were created to enhance the predictability and consistency of spousal support. The guidelines recommend suitable ranges of support within an array of circumstances.
Yet, It is important to note that the SSAGs are not legislated by the federal or provincial government. They are not law! They are, however, the basis of decisions by many judges and by many family lawyers when aiding clients.
The big question now is “What happens to spousal support after remarriage?”. Well, there are two sides to every story.
As the payor, say you were to remarry or re-partner, this does not provide a reason to reduce spousal support being paid. Only under extraordinary cases, it may yield grounds for reduction.
In some instances, the payor’s remarriage or re-partnering could even enhance the payor’s capability to pay, as a consequence of the distribution of expenses with the new spouse or partner.
Spousal Support After Remarriage
As the recipient, things aren’t so straightforward in their case. Generally, if you, the recipient were to remarry or re-partner, variables such as how much, for how long and why are examined.
Again, it all depends on the rationalization for entitlement to support. Remarriage or re-partnering does not translate into automatic cessation of spousal support. Nonetheless, it can mean reduction, suspension or occasionally even termination.
Compensatory and non-compensatory support is differentiated. Comparatively, if spousal support is based merely on a need that ceases to exist as an outcome of remarriage, a court may be convinced to modify or terminate payments.
If you are entitled to spousal support grounded on compensation, then your remarrying may not waive the payor from their spousal support responsibility.
All in all, each case is one-of-a-kind and a court will decide whether spousal support continues or ends following a new relationship entered by the recipient.
Do you have questions about spousal support after remarriage? Are you the payor or recipient spouse looking to discuss your spousal support rights and/or obligations? We can connect you with a law firm.
Why You Need Legal Advice
A cohabitation agreement, prenup, marriage contract. You’ve heard the terms on tv and by people passing by. Why bother learning what they mean if you don’t plan on getting married? If you live with a boyfriend or girlfriend, protecting property in common law is important to speak to a family lawyer about.
Even those persons who are in common-law relationships can find themselves in heated court battles. This happens if they are not careful with their legal planning.
A number of issues can arise for someone in a common-law relationship. This can lead to court action. More often than not a person’s sense of entitlement, especially during a long-term relationship, can lead to a family law dispute.
How to protect your assets
One way to effectively protect yourself and your assets from legal liability are to draft and sign a cohabitation agreement. The courts find, from time to time, that some cohabitation agreements are unenforceable.
However, the majority of such agreements are enforced by family courts as long as they are properly drafted and executed with the assistance of family lawyers.
The main reason why cohabitation agreements fail under the scrutiny of the court is that they were bought online. Without the assistance of family law lawyers, many terms and phrases included in the agreements can be struck out or deemed unenforceable by family law judges.
Often such agreements deal only with issues of property.
Cohabitation agreements can also deal with issues of spousal support, what to do with investments if one of the parties is injured or passes away, how to handle insurance policies and a number of other issues that could end up costing you thousands of dollars in legal fees later on.
Protecting Property In Common Law
The first step is to get a cohabitation agreement signed. From time to time the agreement itself may need to be updated with addendums.
Small revisions might be needed when children are born. Other changes might occur when the property is sold and new property purchased. It can typically be easier and more cost-effective to seek out the lawyer who drafted your original agreement.
They can complete addendums and revisions to your existing agreement. You do not have to use the same lawyer. You might feel a fresh perspective on a new development in your common-law relationship is needed.
Author: Alistair Vigier is the CEO of ClearWay Law