An Overview of How Spousal Support Works in Ontario

January 1, 2021

In Ontario, you may be entitled to receive, or required to pay, spousal support after the end of your relationship if you and your spouse:

  • were married;
  • lived together in a marriage-like relationship for at least three years; or
  • had a child together and were in a relationship โ€œof some permanence.โ€

Not every divorce or separation will result in an order for spousal support.  Determining which party (if any) is entitled to spousal support is a complex issue.  Calculating an appropriate amount of spousal support in a given situation is equally complicated.  If you think you might be entitled to receive spousal support from your ex-spouse, contact a family law lawyer right away. 

Are you entitled to spousal support?

Just because one spouse earns more than the other does not mean that spouse will be required to pay spousal support at the end of the relationship.  Various factors go into this assessment, but common situations that may lead to a spousal support order include situations where:

  • the spouses had a cohabitation or marriage agreement that included an agreement about spousal support;
  • the break-up had a disproportionate effect on the financial situation of one spouse, creating a need for a spousal support order; or
  • one spouse took on a role during the relationship that negatively impacted their ability to earn an income, generally benefiting the other spouse (for example, one spouse stayed home to look after the children).

How is spousal support calculated?

The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines were created to help the courts calculate a fair value of spousal support and provide some consistency to spousal support orders across the country.  While they are not mandatory, the courts have determined that they should be followed unless there is a particular reason not to follow them. 

The Spousal Support guidelines use formulas to calculate an appropriate range of spousal support in a given case.  The formulas take into account:

  • the length of the relationship;
  • the incomes of the parties;
  • the ages of the parties; and
  • whether the parties have children and whether child support will be paid by one party.

What if you already have an order for spousal support?

Once you have an agreement or an order for spousal support, you can register with the Family Responsibility Office and they will take care of any enforcement issues. 

At some point, circumstances may change and you and your spouse may agree to a change or a cancellation of the spousal support order.  If you are unable to reach an agreement, one of you may go to court to ask for a new order based on the changed circumstances, such as a lost job or retirement.

Contact Knights Law Professional Corporation For Legal Assistance Today

Even if you and your ex-spouse agree that one of you will pay spousal support to the other, this is a complicated issue to navigate without legal advice.  A professional can ensure that you know your rights and responsibilities relating to spousal support. Call a family law lawyer today.

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