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What is Spousal Support in Canada?

What is Spousal Support in Canada

Being divorced or separated is the first requirement for receiving spousal support in Canada.

Other than that, you must live together for a substantial amount of time via marriage,  common law, or marital relationship.

Also, you must show a need for spousal support to obtain it. Additionally, the financial capability of the payer’s spouse will be a big factor.

Need a clearer idea about spousal support in Canada?

The following discussion includes what you need to know about spousal support.

What is Spousal Support in Canada?

After a separation or divorce, either of the spouses or common-law partners might receive financial assistance. And it’s known as spousal support.

The main objectives of spousal support are to aid the other spouse in achieving financial security and to compensate or address monetary losses sustained over the relationship or marriage.

The dependent spouse can struggle financially without spouse support. It might also be necessary if one partner had to stay at home to take care of the home instead of going to work.

For instance, your ex-spouse is a medical practitioner. But she takes time off to raise children and support your career.

So, a judge considers that spouse’s possible future income. To return to the workforce, the spouse could first require support. And a spouse with a higher income gets the responsibility of spousal support.

Spousal maintenance is governed by the Divorce Act, Canada’s federal law. However, provincial and territorial family law also impacts the decision for spousal support.

Arrangements for Spousal Support

Alimony payments can be either temporary or permanent, depending on your specific circumstances.

  • The dependent spouse receives ongoing or permanent support until they pass away, remarry, or cohabit.
  • Temporary spousal support is only provided for a defined period, for example, during the divorce process.

There is more to know about the duration of spousal support. Keep reading to get the full information.

How is Spousal Support Calculated?

Courts have more discretion in deciding whether to award spousal support than they have with child support. The reason is that it involves strict financial requirements.

To get an idea of how much is spousal support, you need to understand The Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, which served as the model for spousal support laws in many states, advises considering the following factors while deciding on spousal support awards:

  • The age, financial situation, physical, mental, and emotional health of your former spouse.
  • The time the recipient needs to complete their education or skills to become self-sufficient; the living standard during their marriage.
  • The number of years a couple has been married.
  • The payer’s spouse’s capacity to assist the receiver while also maintaining their means of support.
  • The best interest of children (if any).

How to Get Spousal Support in Canada?

If you perform the following steps, you can get financial support from your spouse:

  • Settling with your spouse or common-law partner
  • Taking assistance from a third party in mediating a resolution
  • Attending court and requesting that a judge issue an order for spousal support

Usually, a settlement outside of court is preferable since it can be accomplished more quickly and cheaply than going to trial.

Nonetheless, if you cannot agree, you must appear in court and ask the judge for a settlement.

How Long Do You Have to Pay Spousal Support?

The arrangement for spousal support is reconstructive. This is applicable for the entire time it takes the recipient spouse to complete the necessary education or work training to support themselves.

The duration of your marriage plays a major role in how long support payments last. Considering that, the duration of spousal support increases along with the duration of the marriage.

Terms regarding spousal support are usually written into the divorce agreement. If that document does not specify any termination date, then it is up to the court when payments stop.

If you and your ex-spouse have a prenuptial agreement (prenup), it will most likely include information about spousal support.

If you two have a prenuptial agreement, referring to the document, a judge determines if you have to pay the support or how long you will pay. In most situations, alimony ends when the supporting spouse remarries.

On the other hand, spousal support might not be terminated if the supporting spouse dies. Therefore, sometimes the payments continue because the dependent spouse cannot gain employment or a health condition stops them from working.

In this case, receiving support may be made from the supporting spouse’s estate or life insurance.

The next section contains further information on the termination of spousal support.

Instances When You Stop Paying Spousal Support

A judge will specify an end date for any periodic or monthly alimony award, or it may expire for one of these circumstances:

  • The receiver remarried
  • The receiver is cohabiting with a partner
  • The receiver or payor dies
  • Major changes in circumstances, like the retirement of the payor or increased income of the receiver. So, the judge will decide that spousal support is not required anymore.

Do You Have to Be Married to Get Spousal Support?

No, marriage isn’t the only qualification for spousal support. Even if you weren’t married, you might still be eligible. Common-law relationships or living together could also qualify. The key is showing the need for financial support after separation or divorce.

Can You Request Spousal Support After Divorce?

Yes, you can ask for spousal support even after getting divorced.

You need to show that you and your former partner lived together for a significant period, like through marriage or living together as a couple.

It’s important to demonstrate that you truly need financial help and also consider your ex-partner’s ability to provide support.

If you think you might qualify for spousal support, consult with an experienced spousal support lawyer to get the amount you deserve.

How Long After Separation Can You Ask for Spousal Support?

In Canada, there isn’t a strict time limit for seeking spousal support after separation. It’s typically best to address this issue sooner rather than later. After separation, you can request spousal support right away or at any point during or after the separation process.

However, the sooner you address it, the better it is for sorting out financial matters. Waiting too long might make it more challenging to prove the need for support. It’s recommended to seek legal advice promptly if you believe you’re entitled to spousal support after separation.

Final Remarks

Spousal support exists to ensure the financial security of a dependent spouse. If you think you should get spousal support, consult an expert lawyer. Making an agreement, facing the court, identifying eligibility, and reviewing your prenup are fairly complicated tasks.

Besides, if you can explain why you need spousal support, you might not get spousal support. So, it is advised to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

For further clarification, read the following queries:

What are the tax implications of spousal support/maintenance?

Spousal support payments are treated the same as any other form of income. Therefore, the recipient spouse is obligated to submit the support payments to the Canada Revenue Agency as taxable income. Not to mention, they must pay income tax on this particular earning. And the spouse who provides the support is allowed to deduct it from their income.

Who is entitled to spousal support in Canada?

According to the Divorce Act, any spouse may seek spousal maintenance. Typically, the spouse with the lower income asks for spousal support. However, a divorce or separation doesn't necessarily include spousal support. You and your partner can decide on spousal support during the divorce. This is an important part of your separation agreement. If you cannot agree, ask a court to make the decision.

Is spousal support mandatory in Canada?

Spousal support is not a requirement of divorce. In the separation agreement, you and your spouse might specify spousal support during the divorce. If you two can’t understand, you can ask the court. Furthermore, if you had a child together, were in a relationship for a significant amount of time, and lived together as a couple for at least three years, you might be eligible for spousal assistance.

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