The first thing that many people don’t understand about spousal support is what it is. Let’s set the record straight.
Spousal support refers to support received from a partner in the event of separation or divorce. In Ontario, spousal support applies to partners who are either married or in a common-law relationship. It doesn’t matter if the partners are of different sex or the same sex, spousal support can apply regardless.
The person who earns more pays money to the partner who earns less. If you receive support, you will be called the support recipient. If you pay support, you will be called the support payor.
The purpose of spousal support isn’t to deprive one party of money because they earn more. The purpose of spousal support is as follows –
- Recognize the different contributions of each partner in their relationship.
- Help a partner who lost out financially during their relationship. This can be explained by a partner not working because they had to take care of the children. Since the partner put his/her career on hold, he/she has lost out financially and may not be in a good position to support himself/herself financially.
- Help raise any children born from the relationship.
- Help a partner eventually be able to support themselves. In some cases, spousal support is used to pay for a partner to be able to go to school to learn new skills in order to get a job.
You don’t receive spousal support automatically. You can only receive spousal support if you meet certain requirements. The law also makes it clear that you must do everything in your power to try and support yourself as soon as you can after your separation.
Here are the different ways to be entitled to spousal support.
- If you had responsibilities such as taking care of your children or helping your partner build his/her career, you might be entitled to compensatory spousal support
- After your relationship is over, you don’t have any support and your partner’s income and assets can support you. This is called non-compensatory support.
- If you have a cohabitation agreement, marriage contract or another type of legal agreement which specifies who gets spousal support if you separate. This is known as contractual spousal support.
As you can see, it isn’t so white and black. There’s a lot more to spousal support than meets the eye.