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Spousal Support Options in a Divorce

Couple on a couch holding a piece of a broken heart

If you are going through a divorce and are unsure whether or not you are entitled to receive spousal support, here is an overview of what you should know and the available options.

What is spousal support?

Spousal support, or alimony, is the money paid by one spouse to the other as financial support following a separation or divorce.

How eligibility for spousal support is determined

Under Canada’s federal Divorce Act, if a married couple separates, either spouse can request spousal support. Each case is unique, however, and a judge must consider several factors when deciding if the individual should receive support after a separation and/or divorce, including:

  • The financial means and needs of both spouses

  • The length of the marriage

  • The role of each spouse during the marriage

  • The effect of those roles on both spouses' current financial position

  • The effect of the breakdown of the marriage on both spouses' current financial position

  • The ongoing responsibilities for care of the children, if applicable

The judge may also require that the spouse who receives support becomes self-sufficient after a certain amount of time.

The types of spousal support available

In Canada, there are three kinds of spousal support. Here is an overview of each type:

  1. Contractual support is granted if the couple made a prenuptial, cohabitation or separation agreement specifying that one spouse receives support.

  2. Compensatory support is granted when one spouse has forgone career, education or earning opportunities due to their role in the marriage. For example, if one spouse gave up their career to raise children.

  3. Non-compensatory support is granted when one spouse experiences a significant economic hardship due to the breakdown of the marriage. For example, if one spouse experiences a significant reduction in their standard of living because of the separation/divorce.

Once entitlement to spousal support is established, the next step is to determine how much and for how long the support is required using the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAGs). As this is a complex calculation that considers several factors, it is best to consult a lawyer to ensure you have considered every angle and fully understand your spousal support rights and obligations.

Experienced family lawyers in Newfoundland

The professional lawyers at Gittens & Associates in St. John’s, Newfoundland are committed to providing competent legal advice and effective representation in family law cases, including those involving spousal support and parenting time (child custody) battles. Our team of lawyers will take the time to address your unique needs and fiercely advocate on your behalf. Contact us today to learn more or schedule a free telephone consultation.


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