Spousal support is a legal obligation that one spouse may have to financially support the other spouse after separation or divorce. In Ontario, spousal support is governed by the Divorce Act and the Family Law Act.
Under the Family Law Act, spousal support is determined based on several factors, including the length of the marriage or relationship, the income and earning capacity of each spouse, the age and health of each spouse, and the roles and responsibilities of each spouse during the marriage or relationship.
There are three types of spousal support that may be ordered in Ontario: compensatory, non-compensatory, and contractual.
The amount of spousal support to be paid is determined based on the recipient’s financial needs and the payor’s ability to pay. In addition to the recipient’s income, the court may also consider their reasonable living expenses, including housing, transportation, and healthcare costs.
In Canada, spousal support is informed by the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAGs). The SSAGs a set of guidelines developed to provide a framework for calculating spousal support payments. The SSAGs are not mandatory, but they are widely used by lawyers, judges, and other professionals involved in family law cases. The guidelines provide a starting point for discussions around spousal support, and in most cases, the final spousal support award will fall within the range suggested by the guidelines.
In Ontario, periodic spousal support is taxable income for the recipient and tax-deductible for the payor. However, the court may also take into consideration the tax implications of spousal support when determining the amount to be paid.
Spousal support may be reviewed and varied if there is a material change in the circumstances of either spouse, such as a change in income, health, or living arrangements.
Overall, spousal support in Ontario is designed to provide financial assistance to a spouse who has need and/or has suffered economic disadvantages as a result of the marriage or relationship. The amount and duration of support depend on several factors, and the court will consider each spouse’s financial situation when making a decision. Given the complicated nature of spousal support, it is essential to seek the guidance of an experienced family law lawyer. Should you have questions about spousal support, our lawyers at Scharff Nyland Chambers are happy to speak to you.