Spousal Support – Who is Eligible for Spousal
Spousal support is the money that is paid by one spouse to the other once they separate or divorce. The right to spousal support is not automatically triggered once a couple decides to separate and there are several factors to consider when determining whether a spouse is eligible for spousal support, how much they should receive and for how long.
Who is Eligible for Spousal Support?
Marriage is not a requirement for spouses to be entitled to spousal support. The Divorce Act sets out the spousal support obligations for married couples while the Family Law Act recognizes spousal support obligations for cohabiting couples and married couples who have separated but have not filed for divorce. Therefore, both married and common-law spouses are eligible and can make an application for spousal support in Ontario.
As mentioned above, the right to spousal support is not automatically triggered when a relationship breaks down and a spouse must prove they are entitled to support to be granted an order from a judge. There are three grounds that a spouse can use to establish that they are entitled to spousal support, which include:
1. To compensate a spouse for economic disadvantages that they acquired during the marriage. For example, if a spouse stopped working and lost economic opportunities to take on primary childcare responsibilities, they would be able to establish that they should be compensated for their sacrifices during the relationship through spousal support.
2. Where one spouse demonstrates a financial need for spousal support and the other spouse has the capacity to pay, regardless of whether the marriage actually caused financial need.
3. Where there is a contractual agreement that says one or both of the parties are responsible for supporting one another. For example, if there is a marriage contract that provides for spousal support in the event of separation, a spouse would be able to establish that they are entitled to spousal support based on that contract.
Factors to Consider in Making a Spousal Support Award
In addition to three grounds of entitlement for spousal support, judges look at various other factors when determining whether to make an order for spousal support. Some of these factors include:
· The length of the marriage;
· The financial needs and means of both spouses;
· The role of each spouse during their marriage;
· The effect of those roles and the breakdown of the marriage on both spouses’ current financial positions;
· The care of the children; and
· Any orders, agreements, or arrangements already made about spousal support.
It is also important to note that the court will not consider any spousal misconduct when ordering spousal support. This means that the reasons the relationship ended do not affect a spouse’s legal obligation to support the other spouse once they separate. For example, if one spouse committed adultery and the relationship ended as a result, that spouse is still legally entitled to apply for spousal support.
The Four Goals of Spousal Support
Ordering spousal support serves various purposes to ensure that spouses are not financially disadvantaged once a relationship breaks down. Section 15.2(6) of the Divorce Act sets out the four objectives for ordering spousal support, which is listed below:
1. To recognize any economic advantages or disadvantages to the spouses arising from the marriage or its breakdown;
2. To apportion any financial consequences between the spouses that arise from the care of any child of the marriage over and above any obligation for the support of any child of the marriage;
3. To relieve any economic hardship of the spouses arising from the breakdown of the marriage; and
4. In so far as practicable, to promote the economic self-sufficiency of each spouse within a reasonable period of time.
The lawyers at Tailor Law understand that going through a divorce can be a challenging time, especially when you are unsure about the entitlements you may be eligible for.
If you are looking for more information about spousal support and whether you are eligible, do not hesitate to contact us and one of our experienced Family Lawyers can discuss your matter in more detail over a free consultation. You can reach our office at 905-366-0202 or contact us through our website here.