Do I qualify for spousal support?

This is the third in a 3-part series on women’s financial rights and responsibilities when a relationship ends. Part 1 looked at property division and Part 2 covered determining the date of separation.

Whether you are married or living common-law with your partner, you may qualify to receive spousal support or you may be required to pay spousal support.

Qualifying

To qualify for spousal support if you are in a common-law relationship, you must have lived with your partner for at least three years or have been in a steady relationship with him and have had or adopted a child with him.

A number of factors are considered in determining whether or not spousal support should be paid, how much it should be and for how long it should be paid, including:

  • Present and potential earning capacity of you and your spouse
  • How long you were married or lived together
  • How old you each are
  • The roles each of you played during your relationship and are playing now that you have separated (for example, caring for children, managing the household, doing the grocery shopping and cooking)
  • The impact of these roles on the ability of each of you to generate income

Examples:

  • If you have been with your partner for many years and have been a stay-at-home mother to your children, that will increase the likelihood that you will receive spousal support.
  • The same is true if your ability to maintain employment has been limited because your partner’s job has required you to move every few years. How much support you will receive and for how long will depend on what employment you are able to find as well as on the income of your former partner.
  • On the other hand, if you were in the relationship for only a few years, and your employment was not affected in any way by your relationship, you will be unlikely to receive spousal support.

Over time

Often, spousal support is graduated down in amount over time. In other words, your partner might be required to pay you $500 a month until your youngest child is in school, then the amount of support might be reduced to $350 a month because you will be expected to start to find some employment, and then it might be eliminated entirely a few years later.

Enforcement

Like child support, spousal support orders are enforced through the Family Responsibility Office. Unlike child support, it is taxable income to the recipient and a tax deduction to the person paying the support.

Resource: Spousal Support Fact Sheet

 

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