What is Spousal Support?

Spousal support may be paid where one spouse is in a financially weaker situation than the other upon separation. Unlike child support, there is no automatic entitlement to support and there are no prescribed formulas for determining the amount of support to be paid. Support calculation software is available to assist parties in quantifying amounts based on various factors. Parties may decide between themselves on the amount payable, keeping in mind, however, that there are a multitude of factors to be seriously considered which can affect entitlement and the amount and duration of support payable.

If the parties cannot agree on an amount, a court may determine the matter. In determining whether a spouse is entitled to support, a court may consider:
  • The financial needs and circumstances of both spouses further to the breakdown of the marriage;
  • The length of the marriage;
  • The nature of the marriage – whether it was a traditional one in which one spouse stayed at home to care for the children while the other spouse worked, which may have resulted in the stay-at-home spouse’s dependency and detriment in attaining self-sufficiency.
  • The ongoing care and responsibility for any children of the marriage;
  • The prospect of self-sufficiency of the parties within a reasonable period of time after the breakdown of the relationship; and
  • Any order, agreement or arrangement already made regarding spousal support.

Once entitlement is determined, the amount and duration of spousal support must be determined. Some factors to consider include:
  • The age, education and health of the support recipient spouse, and accordingly, what is a reasonable period of time after which the recipient spouse is expected to be gainfully employed and thereby self-sufficient;
  • Whether or not the recipient spouse has remarried;
  • Subsequent children of either spouse after the marriage;
  • If not working, or underemployed, whether the recipient spouse is able to re-enter the workforce or upgrade their skills so as to be reasonably competitive in the workforce.

Please contact our office for more information about spousal support.