The Quick and Easy Guide to Understanding Spousal Support

The Quick and Easy Guide to Understanding Spousal Support
December 22, 2021

The end of a marriage can be a very difficult and confusing time. Not only do you have to cope with the loss of a relationship, but there are also legal ramifications that can be hard to understand. For some people, spousal support is often one of those things. After all, the end of a marriage can result in financial hardship for one or both parties and that can be a very scary feeling.

No matter which end of the spousal support case you’re on, keeping track of the ins and outs of the process can be overwhelming. However, by educating yourself, you can feel more prepared to deal with the situation which will allow you to feel more confident as you go through your divorce proceedings.

Let’s talk about some of the things you need to know about spousal support.

What Is Spousal Support?

Spousal support is money that one spouse may be legally required to pay the other upon divorce or legal separation. Spousal support is typically awarded in situations where one spouse did not earn an income, or significantly less income during the relationship so that they could take care of other responsibilities that benefitted the couple. Additionally, spousal support may also be awarded when one spouse will face significant financial hardship due to the end of the marriage. The money is meant to help alleviate the stress of losing the income from the spouse who was financially supporting the household. Whether or not spousal support will be awarded is determined based on several factors. 

What You Should Know About Spousal Support

Now that we’ve established what spousal support is, it’s time to go over some of the important things that people should know. Although every spousal support case is different, there are some basic details that are universally relevant. 

Who Can Request Spousal Support

While it is commonly believed that spousal support only exists for women, that isn’t the case at all. Either party can request spousal support as outlined in Canada’s Divorce Act. In most cases, the spouse who makes the least amount of money is the one to ask for spousal support. 

Child Support vs. Spousal Support

When a couple who has children together go through a divorce, child support and spousal support may be considered. It’s important to note that receiving one kind of support does not disqualify a person from receiving the other. There are circumstances in which a person will be ordered to pay both child and spousal support. As mentioned in the Divorce Act, child support takes precedence over spousal support. Essentially, this means that if a person can only afford to pay one, the money should be put towards child support. 

How Spousal Support Is Calculated

When it comes to spousal support, one of the main things people want to know is how the amount will be calculated. Unfortunately, the answer to this isn’t cut and dry. Many factors are taken into account when determining how much a person will pay for spousal support, and there is no law that mandates how much or how little a person has to pay. If the marriage ends on an amicable note, both parties may be able to come to an agreement on their own to determine how much spousal support should be paid. People should also keep in mind that a person may be ordered to pay spousal support on a monthly basis or in a lump sum. 

How Long Does Spousal Support Last?

No matter which side of the situation you’re on, knowing how long spousal support will last is very important. As with the calculation process, the length of spousal support can also be a bit of a grey area because the answer isn’t the same for everyone. Several factors are taken into consideration when deciding how long a person will be responsible for paying spousal support. Some of those factors include the length of the marriage, age of children, and their age. 

Sometimes, spousal support will be determined for a set amount of time. However, in other cases, spousal support can be indefinite unless there is a change in circumstances. For example, if a person receiving spousal support gets remarried, they may no longer be entitled to compensation. 

Can Spousal Support Be Adjusted?

It’s no secret that people’s financial situations can change. In some cases, a person may no longer be able to afford the amount they were initially mandated to pay. When this happens, the party responsible for paying spousal support can file an application to have the amount adjusted. As with the initial calculation, former spouses can also communicate directly to come up with a solution should the agreement need to be changed. 

Spousal Support and Taxes

How spousal support impacts your taxes depends on whether or not you are the payer or the payee. For those making payments, spousal support is a tax deductible expense. Those who are receiving spousal support payments are required to report those payments as income to the Canada Revenue Agency.

Spousal Support Doesn’t Have To Be Scary

Not only are finances the number one cause of divorces in Canada, but they can also be one of the most stressful things about the divorce process. Whether you’re someone who is looking for spousal support or someone who will be paying it, being knowledgeable about spousal support can help alleviate some of the uncertainty.

As mentioned earlier, spousal support cases can be worked out between former partners, and this solution can often make things easier for both parties. If you’d like to take this route with your former spouse, but aren’t sure how to approach the conversation, online divorce mediation could be a great option for you.

At UnMarry, we understand the benefits of a smooth divorce, and we hope to help you have that experience. If you’re in the Toronto area, contact us today to schedule a free consultation to learn more about how online divorce mediation works.

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