Toronto Spousal Support Lawyer
Toronto Alimony Lawyer

Ontario Support Lawyer | Alimony
Spousal Support Claims | Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines

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Spousal support, also called alimony or maintenance, is the money paid by one spouse to the other after they separate or divorce. Spousal support obligations do not only arise in marriages, but also in common-law relationships and same-sex relationships.

Unlike child support, spousal spouse is not an automatic right in Ontario when a marriage ends. You may be entitled to receive spousal support. There are several factors which give rise to an entitlement to spousal support. These factors include the length of the marriage or relationship, the roles each spouse played in the marriage, and the incomes of each spouse, among other factors.

Spousal Support Claims

The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Bracklow v Bracklow recognized there are three types of spousal support claims:

  1. Compensatory claims arise when one spouse suffers an economic loss or an economical disadvantage due to the marriage. This includes loss of employment opportunities. For example, a spouse who stayed at home to raise the children would be eligible to make a claim for spousal support on a compensatory basis.
  2. Non-compensatory claims are needs-based. If the breakdown of a relationship leaves one spouse in need of financial support and the other spouse has the capacity to pay support, this may result in a non-compensatory claim for spousal support. If one spouse sees a serious decline in their standard of living after their marriage ends, this may also give rise to a non-compensatory claim.
  3. Contractual claims occur when spouses agree in a domestic contract or separation agreement that they are responsible for “each other’s support”. Examples of domestic contracts include marriage contracts and cohabitation agreements.

The Divorce Act specifically states courts should not consider any spousal misconduct when making an order for spousal support. However, there are exceptions to this rule.

How is Spousal Support Calculated?

Once an entitlement to spousal support is established, spousal support is calculated based on the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines. These guidelines determine the quantum of support based on spousal incomes, the length of marriage and/or cohabitation period, the ages of the spouses and the residency and ages of the children (if any). The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines provide three ranges of spousal support: low, mid-range and high. Generally, the high range is applied in long-term marriages, where is a large discrepancy in incomes and where there are children involved. Whereas the low range usually applies in short-term marriages where there is a smaller difference in income and where there are no children. Spousal support can be payable in monthly installments or a lump sum.

Duration of Spousal Support

The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines also calculates the duration of spousal support. The duration of support depends on the facts of each case, such as the ages of the spouses when they separated and the length of marriage and/or cohabitation. Usually, support is payable for 0.5 to 1 year for each year of marriage or cohabitation. In long-term marriages, spousal support can be indefinite. There is an expectation under the law for the spouse receiving spousal support to make reasonable efforts to become self-sufficient. Once a recipient becomes self-sufficient, spousal support may be terminated.

Why Gilbertson Davis LLP?

Spousal Support is a complex and nuanced area of family law. While the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines provide a framework for determining the quantum and length of spousal support, they contain numerous exclusions and exceptions. It is critical for separating spouses to understand how the Guidelines work, and to get experienced legal advice on their entitlement to, or obligations for, spousal support early after separation. Our skilled counsel is well-versed in spousal support and can assist you make educated decisions about spousal support.

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This page contains general legal information only and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice for your unique situation. If you require legal advice, please request an initial consultation with Gilbertson Davis LLP using the Request Consultation Form on this webpage or by contacting our Intake Coordinator on (416) 979-2020, ext. 223 (both subject to the Terms of Use described on our Contact page).