Am I Entitled to Spousal Support?

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Upon the breakdown of your relationship, you or your ex may be entitled to spousal support. This means that one of you may have to make a payment to the other each month. Spousal support only applies to you if you meet one of the following criteria: 

  1. You are or were married to your ex,

  2.  You lived with your ex for at least 3 years, or 

  3. You lived with your ex and had or adopted a child together. 

If you or your ex meet one of these criteria, spousal support may apply to your family law situation.  There are three main types of spousal support: Compensatory, Non-Compensatory, and Contractual.

Compensatory Spousal Support

If you or your ex were economically disadvantaged as a result of your relationship, there may be an entitlement to spousal support.  For example, if your or your ex: 

  • Gave up your career to take care of your ex and/or your children

  • Moved to a different city so that your ex could pursue his/her career

  • Took time away from your career to raise children, or 

  • Worked to help pay for your ex’s tuition so that he/she could pursue his/her career

This is not an exhaustive list, which means that there are several reasons why you or your ex may be entitled to compensatory spousal support. If either of you meet some or all of these criteria, it may be a good idea to seek legal advice prior to making any major decisions about how to move forward.

Non-Compensatory Spousal Support

Non-Compensatory spousal support is based on the need for support and the ability to pay support. For example, if your spouse earns enough income to support you, and your income is not high enough to provide you and/or your children with a similar standard of living to that which you had during your relationship, then you may be entitled to spousal support. 

Showing that there is a need for support, and there is an ability to pay it, requires you to look at your respective incomes and expenses, as well as each of your standards of living.  This usually requires providing each other with sworn Financial Statements, bank statements, credit card statements, Income Tax Returns, paystubs, and other relevant documentation. 

Contractual Spousal Support

If you and your ex entered into a Cohabitation Agreement, Marriage Contract (often called a ‘pre-nup’), or other contract stating that one of you will be paid spousal support, then there may be grounds for entitlement.  There may also be entitlement to spousal support if one of you sponsored the other’s immigration to Canada.   It is important to review any such contracts before deciding whether to pursue, or oppose, a claim for spousal support.