Spousal Support in Ontario – Frequently Asked Questions

Spousal Support

What is Spousal Support?

Spousal support is the payment that the higher income earning spouse makes to the lower income earning spouse after separation or divorce. This payment is also known as alimony. It is important to note that spousal support is a legal obligation that is triggered by being married or in a common law relationship.

Why is Spousal Support paid?

A marriage or common law relationship is viewed as an economic partnership. If this partnership ends, the law expects that the spouse earning more provide the other spouse with income support. The law in this respect is gender neutral and applies equally to males and females.

The reason why spousal support exists in Ontario is due to the following:

  • To acknowledge each spouse’s contribution to the marriage or common law relationship.
  • To apportion the costs of caring for a child
  • To relieve the financial consequences due to the break down of the relationship
  • To assist spouses to contribute to their own support
  • To remedy any economic consequences to a support recipient due to the relationship and its breakdown

How is someone entitled to Spousal Support?

It is important to note that just because there is an income difference does not result in qualifying for spousal support. Before even calculating how much spousal support one is entitled to, one must establish they are entitled to it. The issue of entitlement must be made out on a compensatory, non-compensatory or contractual basis.

Compensatory grounds of entitlement focuses on the spouse’s contribution to the marriage and takes a look at how the higher income spouse benefited from this contribution. The typical scenario in this case would be the homemaker where the higher income earning spouse benefits due to the homemaker’s sacrifice of staying at home and raising the children.

Non-compensatory grounds of entitlement focuses on the needs of the lower income spouse. There is an understanding in law that in a relationship parties rely on each other economically. Where there is a significant difference in income that reliance increases and the lower income spouse suffers a drop in their living standard on separation.

Contractual grounds of entitlement are based on a contract. Typically this could be the case where parties enter into a marriage contract that stipulates that spousal support will be paid on the breakdown of the relationship.

How is Spousal Support calculated?

Spousal Support is calculated based on the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines. These guidelines stipulate the quantum and duration of support in particular scenarios. The quantum and duration is affected by how long parties were in a relationship for, whether there are any children of the marriage and the difference between the parties’ income.

For more information about obtaining a divorce, please contact our Toronto divorce lawyer here.

NOTICE AND DISCLAIMER: The material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please consult with a family lawyer

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Resuming Marital Relations during Separation Period

Helpful Resources:

Divorce and Separation
Family Justice Services
Child Custody and Access
Child Support
Division or Equalization of Family Property
Treatment of a Matrimonial Home
Enforcement of Support Payments
Child Protection
Child Adoption