Spousal Support

Spousal support is a major concern for separating couples.

Spousal support (sometimes referred to as “alimony” or “maintenance”) refers to the financial support provided by one spouse for the other. It is designed to provide temporary support or to maintain financial status during separation and/or after the divorce. For separating couples, the amount of spousal support is a major concern for both parties, the providing spouse as well as the spouse receiving the support. Howard Nightingale will provide you with information regarding the legal guidelines, ambiguities, special circumstances, and individual concerns for spousal support.

The Family Law Act and Divorce Act give the court the authority to order a person to provide support for his or her dependents and to determine the amount of this support. Even unmarried partners can be defined as “spouse” under the Family Law Act for the purposes of spousal support.

Significant difference between child support and spousal support:

Unlike child support, the entitlement to spousal support is not automatic under family law. Spousal support is determined on a case-by-case basis, generally taking into consideration the following factors:

  • One spouse’s financial need.
  • The other spouse’s ability to provide financial support.
  • That spouses are required to make their best possible effort to support themselves.

Other factors determining spousal support:

There are several other significant factors that the courts can consider in determining spousal support, including:

  • The length of the marriage or union.
  • The ages of the spouses at separation.
  • The spouse’s domestic and child-rearing responsibilities during the marriage or union.
  • The contribution of one spouse to the successful career of the other.
  • The loss of income and career potential of a spouse during the marriage or union.

Remember that spousal support for cohabiting couples (common law spouses and unmarried same-sex spouses) is determined the same way as it is for legally married spouses.

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