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What Qualifies a Spouse for Alimony?

If you are going through a divorce and want to learn more about spousal support payments, here is an overview of what you should know.a

What is alimony?

Alimony or spousal support is the money paid by one spouse or common-law partner to the other as financial support following a divorce or separation. 


How eligibility for spousal support is determined

Under Canada’s federal Divorce Act, divorced spouses are not automatically entitled to alimony. They must apply for it within two years of filing for a divorce. However, the laws for common-law partners differ in each province and territory. For example, in Quebec, common-law partners are not eligible for alimony when they separate.


Either spouse can request support. Judges must consider several factors when determining entitlement, including:

How long the couple lived together

If the couple had children together and who has been caring for them

Each partner’s income

Each partner’s age

The roles each partner had during the marriage

Each partner’s mental and physical health

The ability of each partner to support themselves


Alimony is most likely to be paid if there is a big difference between the spouses' incomes after they separate. In addition, judges usually order more alimony for longer marriages. At the same time, spouses who receive support are required to become self-supporting where reasonable.


Furthermore, Canada has a no-fault divorce law, which means the reasons the marriage ended do not affect a spouse's legal obligation to support the other spouse following a divorce. Alimony is not intended to punish a spouse for bad behaviour or reward a spouse for good behaviour.


How long alimony has to be paid

Alimony agreements usually only last for a certain amount of time. This time is usually based on how long the couple was married before they separated. In general, alimony payments last between six months to one year for every year of marriage. However, if the couple was married for a long time, spousal support might not have an end date.


Alimony can be a confusing and complicated part of family law. As such, it is best to consult a qualified lawyer to help you determine your rights and obligations.


Trusted family lawyers in Newfoundland

If you are going through a divorce, the professional lawyers at Gittens & Associates in St. John’s, Newfoundland can provide you with expert legal advice and representation. We practice extensively in family law cases and can help you draft a separation agreement or reach a fair child custody arrangement. Contact us today to learn more or schedule a free telephone consultation.

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