In Ontario, spousal support is money paid from one spouse to the other for financial support upon the breakdown of a relationship. A couple is said to have been in a relationship if
they were legally married;
they were in a common-law relationship for at least three years; or
they had a biological child or adopted a child together and were in a relationship of some permanence.
No spouse is automatically entitled to support. Such entitlement may arise out of an agreement between the partners, or if one person applies to the court for support. In that case, the court may determine how much support will be required, if any, and the duration of the support.
How much is owed?
There are no strict rules to calculate the amount of support payments. Instead, numerous governing principles work together to address each situation on a case-by-case basis.
In fact, without an existing agreement by the parties themselves, the calculation is rather complex and involves a number of factors, including
the length of the relationship;
the financial repercussions of separation and divorce on each spouse;
a spouse’s financial dependence or independence; and
a spouse’s future ability to support himself or herself.
Although they are not obligated to do so, the courts can calculate amounts using the federal Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines, which take income, length of the relationship and other variables into account.