Spousal Support During Separation in Ontario

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: My partner and I are separating, will I have to pay spousal support?

A: The first determination that must be made is whether your partner is entitled to Spousal Support. If a couple are legally married, then an Application for Divorce and Spousal Support can be brought under the Divorce Act.  Under the Family Law Act, a non-married couple may be entitled to Spousal Support if they cohabited continuously in a conjugal relationship for at least 3 years, or if they are in a relationship of some permanence and are the parents of a child.

In determining eligibility for Spousal Support, the Court will consider the length of the relationship, the parties’ financial circumstances, and the role of each partner in the relationship, including the role of each party in raising the children (if any).

If eligible, there are three potential rights to Spousal Support: contractual, compensatory, or needs based support. Contractual support will be awarded based on a written agreement between the parties, such as a prior Marriage Contract. Compensatory support is awarded to compensate a person for their economic disadvantage and/or the economic advantage of their partner achieved as a result of the relationship. Needs-based support is awarded when one partner is unable to support his/herself without the assistance of the other partner.

A Spousal Support Order by the Court is binding and enforceable. It is all important for a Spousal Support Order to be fair and appropriate in the circumstances, and to be drafted competently—failure to pay under the Spousal Support Order can have serious consequences such as your driver’s license being suspended, forfeiture of your property, a lien being registered against your home, or even a period of incarceration. The duration a Spousal Support Order will be in effect depends on the duration of the relationship; the longer a couple was together, the longer a Spousal Support Order will be in effect, and it can even be in force indefinitely. In addition to legal consequences, a Spousal Support Order can have significant tax consequences. A properly drafted monthly Spousal Support Order will ensure that monthly support payments are tax deductible from the Payor and are taxed as income to the Recipient.

Family Law is a complex and highly specialised field of law. Using their experience and training, legal counsel can provide objective advice and guidance specifically tailored to your circumstances. Besides providing advice, legal counsel can provide an objective perspective while advocating and negotiating on your behalf to achieve a fair and appropriate settlement in your case, and by drafting documents in a manner that will preserve and protect your interests. Regardless of how far along you are in the process, you ought to seek legal advice prior to such an important and significant decision, which will have far-reaching implications in your life throughout the duration the Order.

Contact Us at Donnell Law Group

If you are involved in a separation in Southern Ontario, it is time to speak with a lawyer to review your situation and advise you on the best recourse available. Our lawyers at Donnell Law Group are experienced in separation and divorce we deal regularly with the civil, family and criminal court and the relevant legislation. Contact our lawyers for a consultation. We serve Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill and all of Southern Ontario.

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