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Spousal Support is more of an art than a science.

When you are separating or divorcing, there are many things you will need to consider before you and your former partner go your separate ways, including spousal support.  The law says that although you are separating, you may not be financially independent of each other right away, or ever.  You may be entitled to receive or be required to pay spousal support either short- or long-term.  The goal is likely to be working towards self-sufficiency for both parties over time.

Whether you will receive or be required to pay spousal support is not a simple question. There are many factors to consider.  In short, the answer to the question is more of an art than a science.

Entitlement to spousal support


Entitlement is based on the legislation under which you are governed – Divorce Act if you are married or the provincial legislation if you are not married – as well as the court cases that were decided before you (case law). Entitlement is based on factors such as need, employment circumstances, roles in child raising, length of relationship, etc.

The question of entitlement is often a difficult conversation to have with your former partner because parties usually come to the table with opposite views of what the outcome should be – “I need support” vs. “I don’t want to pay support”.  There are many approaches to addressing this question - negotiation, Collaborative law, mediation and/or litigation.

Amount and Duration of Spousal Support


Once it is determined that one spouse is entitled to spousal support, the next question is how much and for how long. These questions will be answered having regard to your budget, need, ability to pay, and the range of support recommended by the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines.  A lawyer will be able to provide guidance and can assist you in answering these difficult questions.

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