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 co-habitated 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 co-habitating spouses may also apply for spousal support.

Spousal Support After Remarriage

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 (R.S.O. 1990, c. F.3), Subsection 33(8), 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, if this has not been done by orders under Parts I (Family Property) and II (Matrimonial Home).  R.S.O. 1990, c. F.3, s. 33 (8); 1999, c. 6, s. 25 (5); 2005, c. 5, s. 27 (9).

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.

Read more: Toronto Family Lawyer

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 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 to 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? Please contact ClearWay Law to book a consultation with one of our lawyers. Questions? Give us a call or complete a contact form on our website!