Spousal support (the term we use in Canada) is sometimes called “alimony” or “maintenance payments” and it refers to the situation where one spouse continues to require financial support from the other. It can be a very contentious issue between parties.
The theory of spousal support is that marriage and cohabitation create economic partnerships which, when they break down, require an obligation to the partner who is at an economic disadvantage. However, spousal support is not an automatic right, and a party must first prove that there is a need and an entitlement to support. Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits.
Adults are expected under the law to do their best to be economically self-sufficient and contribute to their own support. In making an order for spousal support, the court must take into consideration many factors, such as:
the length of time the parties were married or cohabiting;
the age of the spouse claiming support;
the functions performed by each spouse;
whether there are any children in the relationship; and
whether one spouse made sacrifices in their career for the other spouse.
The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines have been introduced in order to provide for a range of support amounts based on the above factors.