When a married couple decides to end their marriage, one spouse may be entitled to spousal support. Spousal support, also known as alimony, is a payment made by one spouse to the other to help with their financial needs after separation or divorce. In Ontario, spousal support is governed by the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines, which provide a framework for determining the amount and duration of spousal support payments.
To be eligible for spousal support in Ontario, the couple must have lived together for at least three years or have a child together. The court will consider a variety of factors when determining eligibility, such as the length of the relationship, the roles each spouse played during the relationship, the financial circumstances of each spouse and child support & child custody (decision-making responsibility) situations. In general, spousal support is intended to help a spouse who has suffered a financial disadvantage as a result of the marriage or who has a lower income or earning capacity compared to their former spouse.
Types of Spousal Support
In Ontario Divorce Act, there are two types of spousal support: compensatory and non-compensatory. Compensatory support is awarded to a spouse who has made a financial or non-financial contribution to the marriage, or who has suffered a financial disadvantage as a result of the marriage breakdown. Non-compensatory support is awarded to a spouse who has a lower income or earning capacity as a result of the marriage breakdown. The type of spousal support that is awarded will depend on the specific circumstances of the case.
Determining Spousal Support
When determining the amount and duration of spousal support payments, the court will consider a variety of factors. These factors include the length of the relationship, the income of each spouse, the roles each spouse played during the relationship, and the ability of each spouse to earn income in the future. The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines provide a framework for determining the amount and duration of spousal support payments for both share custody and split custody, but the court has the discretion to depart from these guidelines in certain circumstances.
Spousal Support Agreement:
Spouses can agree on the amount and duration of spousal support payments through a separation agreement. The agreement must be in writing and signed by both spouses in the presence of a witness. The agreement can be reviewed by the court to ensure that it is fair and reasonable. TCZ Lawyer Eric Tianchuan Zhao can ensure when negotiating a spousal support agreement to ensure that your rights and interests are protected.
Termination of Spousal Support
Spousal support in Ontario may be terminated if the recipient spouse remarries, enters into a new common-law relationship, or becomes self-sufficient. It may also be terminated if there is a significant change in the financial circumstances of either spouse, such as a loss of employment or a change in the cost of living. In some cases, spousal support payments may be modified rather than terminated.
Enforcement of Spousal Support:
If a spouse fails to make spousal support payments, the other spouse can seek enforcement through the court. The court may order the payment of arrears, and may also order a wage garnishment or a lien on property to secure payment. It is important to seek legal advice if spousal support payments are not being made, as failure to pay spousal support can have serious consequences, including legal action and damage to credit rating.
In conclusion, spousal support is an important aspect of separation and divorce in Ontario. Understanding the eligibility criteria, types of support available, and factors considered when determining the amount and duration of support payments can help spouses navigate the spousal support process. TCZ Lawyer Eric Tianchuan Zhao can can help ensure that a fair and reasonable spousal support agreement is reached and that spousal support payments are enforced when necessary.