Spousal Support Law

[Please be advised that the information provided is not to be constituted as legal advice]

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Married spouse or a divorced spouse may apply for spousal support under the Divorce Act.

A spouse may apply for spousal support under the Family Law Act (FLA). Under the Family Law Act, for the purposes of support, “spouse” is defined to include

  • Either of two persons who are married to each other or have entered into a marriage that is voidable or void in good faith.
  • Either of two persons who are not married and have cohabited continuously for a period of at least three years in a conjugal relationship; and
  • Either of two persons who are not married but who are in a relationship of some permanence if they are the natural or adoptive parents of a child. Once parties are divorced, neither may apply for spousal support under the FLA.

In Bracklow v. Bracklow, the Supreme Court of Canada reviewed the basis for spousal support claims and identified three conceptual models:

  • Contractual: The court will consider any express or implied agreement between the parties to create or limit mutual support obligations.
  • Compensatory: The court will compensate a spouse who has suffered economic disadvantages as a result of the marriage or has contributed to the economic advantage of the other spouse.
  • Needs based: The court will consider the needs, means, and other circumstances of the spouse to determine if the spouse is able to support himself or herself at the end of the relationship without the assistance of the other party.

Neither the Divorce Act nor the FLA provides specific direction as to the quantum of spousal support.
The courts tend to rely on the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines to determine the Quantum of support.

Orders may be indefinite, time limited, or subject to review.