How to Get Spousal Support in Canada: Family Lawyers Explain

A couple of rings

Spousal support is the amount of money a spouse has to pay to their partner to cover their financial needs while going through a separation or a divorce. This amount is usually paid to cover a partner’s needs, like helping them become self-sufficient financially, maintaining their lifestyle, helping with the cost of raising their children, and compensating for a time when they stopped working to care for the children, etc.

Spousal support is generally paid by a spouse who earns more. A court can order a person to pay spousal support if their spouse decides to appeal for it. However, many people make some mistakes in their application, leading to their appeals getting rejected. In this blog, our family lawyers have explained how you can get spousal support in Canada.

Eligibility for Spousal Support

There are set eligibility criteria for spousal support in Canada, although they may slightly differ in some states. A person is entitled to get spousal support if they:

  • Lived together for at least 3 years
  • Had a child together during a relationship
  • Got married

If you are seeking spousal support, you also have to demonstrate some of these things in your application:

  • You have a lower income compared to your partner
  • Your partner has sufficient assets and money to pay spousal support
  • You are struggling to maintain your lifestyle after the divorce or separation due to financial problems
  • You gave up your career or an opportunity to take care of the kids while you were in a relationship
  • You are legally obliged to receive spousal support after separation or divorce as a part of the agreement

Some other factors also come into account, like a person’s age, health, children, and more.

A couple having a disagreement

Applying for Spousal Support

You’re not automatically entitled to receive spousal support after a divorce or separation. A person and their spouse can negotiate who should pay the spousal support and what amount should be paid. If a couple can’t decide that, they can ask a judge to decide for them.

How Much Spousal Support Should You Get?

The amount of spousal support you receive can be influenced by a variety of factors. Some of these include:

  • Income disparity
  • Number of children, if any
  • The person taking care of the children
  • Your role in the relationship
  • Your mental health
  • Your physical health
  • Your financial status

It’s best to consult a family lawyer to help you determine the right amount. A lawyer can help you understand the SSAGs (Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines) and how they apply to your case. These guidelines can play a vital role in determining the amount you should get from your spouse. The Federal department of justice also provides some supporting documents for further assistance.

Avoid relying on free spousal support calculators available on the internet. Many people make this mistake and end up receiving a much lesser amount than they should’ve gotten. This is because these online calculators only consider your employment income and do simple calculations without considering other factors.

Setting Up Your Spousal Support

Your spousal support can be set up in three simple ways:

  • You and your spouse agree on an amount for a specific period without going to court. This agreement can be a part of your separation agreement where your family members or friends help as mediators.
  • You can come up with your separation agreement and present it in court for the judge to impose it on your spouse.
  • You can file a case in the family law court, and a judge will decide the spousal support. The amount a judge decides is then legally enforceable.

Setting Up Spousal Support Through Separation Agreement

A separation agreement must have some rules to be deemed legally enforceable. Before any spouse signs the agreement, they should:

  • Provide honest information regarding the finances and other factors
  • Not be pressured into signing the agreement
  • Acknowledge and fully understand the agreement, including the terms, consequences, and more
  • Be in the right mental state to sign the agreement

If any of these rules are not followed, a person can appeal in court to rule their separation agreement is not legally binding or not enforceable. This is why experts suggest getting a family lawyer to help you make the separation agreement if both of you don’t want to go to court.

An empty courtroom

Going to Court for Spousal Support

In case a person and their spouse can’t decide on a spousal support amount, if any, in their separation agreement, the only way to solve this situation is to go to court.

The court hears the case and decides based on the Family Law of Canada. Once the decision has been taken, the court will issue an enforceable legal order. In case it’s not in your favour, you can appeal for it in the family court.

Changing the Payment Terms of Spousal Support

If you or your spouse’s financial condition or any other major change happens, you may be required to change the terms of payment for your spousal support in the agreement or court order. The change in situation could be anything, including:

  • A change in the income of a partner (the spouse who was receiving spousal support is now earning more than the person giving it)
  • The partner receiving spousal support can support themselves financially
  • The partner is no longer taking care of the children
  • The partner receiving spousal support marries again

Your separation agreement or the court order may already have a clause for changing situations and can deal with situations like these. For example, the agreement states that the spousal support payment will end if one of the above mentioned conditions is fulfilled. It can also mention a review date when both spouses can mutually review the amounts and determine if they need to be changed.

If the separation agreement doesn’t deal with these situations, it may be necessary to draft a new agreement with updated spousal support terms.

A lawyer reviewing documents

Benefits of Working with a Family lawyer for Your Spousal Support

Working with a lawyer to determine your spousal support and setting up an agreement has plenty of benefits. Let’s take a look at them in detail:

Helps You Understand the Legal System

Family lawyers have all the relevant knowledge of the legal system and can help you understand every complexity. Not understanding the laws properly often leads to people making mistakes in their application, resulting in them not getting what they deserve.

This includes working on your spousal support application or separation agreement. A lawyer knows what holds up in court, what is necessary for good chances of success, and the rules of drafting a separation agreement.

Helps Navigate Court System

Knowing the laws and the legal requirements is one thing, but knowing how to navigate court is another. Not every court hears every appeal, which is why filing in the right court for your application to be considered is important. Moreover, family lawyers will help protect your rights throughout the case.

Offer Unbiased Opinion

People going through a separation or a divorce often make rash decisions because of the emotional distress they’ve been through. Family lawyers can help in times like these by offering unbiased advice that the person needs.

Work on Contingency Fee

Usually, family lawyers work on a contingency fee. This means you’ll only need to pay them if they win the case for you or get a favourable result. Moreover, their fee is usually very affordable.

Help You with Determining Spousal Support Amount

As mentioned above, deciding on the right amount is crucial in a spousal support agreement. The amount you or your spouse deserve has to be calculated with several factors in mind instead of just your income.

Your family lawyer will also present your case to the judge and explain why you’re demanding that specific amount and why it’s right. Having a family lawyer enhances your chances of getting your desired amount of spousal support if you deserve it.

A lawyer in a courtroom

Hire a Family Lawyer in Canada

If you’re in dispute over your spousal support agreement and want professional help regarding determining your spousal support amount or filing an application in the family law court, you should hire a family lawyer. In case you’re looking for one in Canada, Nanda & Associate Lawyers can help you.

We have a team of experienced family lawyers who can help you with all complexities regarding your spousal support agreement. Moreover, we also have qualified wills and estate lawyers, immigration lawyers, civil litigation lawyers, personal injury lawyers, business lawyers, and more. We offer our services in Toronto, Mississauga, and Brampton.

Book a meeting with us today to hire our services.


Disclaimer: This article is only intended for educational purposes and shouldn’t be used as a substitute for legal advice.

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