Should Your Ex Pay You Spousal Support? The Answer May Surprise You

Couple cake topper sitting on top of cash

Are you going through a divorce? Here is what you need to know about spousal support.

Divorce is difficult on many levels: emotionally, mentally and financially. Divorce can result in a great deal of financial uncertainty, and leave both parties with questions about legal fees, child support, and spousal support.

Spousal support can be especially difficult because there are so many variables that determine whether it’s necessary, who pays it and how much. If you’re wondering what your spousal support situation may look like, here are a few factors that will affect the court’s decision.

Where You Live

In Canada, spousal support laws are written in the federal Divorce Act, meaning they apply no matter which province or territory you live in. However, non-divorce or pre-divorce separations, as well as common-law separations, are governed on a provincial and territorial level, so in those cases, your spousal support will be determined by where you live.

Your Income Gap

When both parties have a fairly similar income, and neither has any special expense considerations (such as large, regular medical costs), spousal support likely won’t even enter the equation. Generally speaking, the larger the income gap, the more likely the higher-earning party will have to pay spousal support. Mitigating factors might include one party moving in with a new partner with a high income, or a change of job.

How Your Marriage Affected your Income

Of course, spousal support isn’t just determined by your current income. The court will also look at how your income was affected by your marriage. For example, if one partner put their career on hold to care for the home and children full-time, they are likely to receive spousal support as the marriage caused a direct loss of income.

Child Custody Arrangements

If you and your former partner have children together, custody arrangements will be a major factor in your spousal support arrangements. Child support and spousal support will be considered alongside each other, as they are directly connected.

It’s rare that the parent with primary custody of the children will have to pay spousal support; because the other partner would likely owe them child support, the amounts may cancel each other out. However, almost any scenario is possible. If the parent with primary custody has a significantly higher income, they still may need to pay spousal support, and they may not be eligible to receive child support if the other party doesn’t have enough income to draw from. Of course, it is becoming more and more common for divorced couples to share custody 50/50, so child custody may be a level playing field.

The financial aspects of divorce are confusing and can seem complicated. These feelings are amplified if you attempt to navigate your divorce alone or with little support. That’s why it’s important to have the support of a reliable family lawyer.

If you have questions about spousal support, contact our team of Family Law lawyers. We’ll help you navigate your way through the challenges to reach a sense of stability and a comfortable, predictable financial situation.