How do I get spousal support?
Divorce lawyers in Toronto and throughout Ontario deal with the issue of spousal support regularly. Spousal support, or alimony as it is called in other places, is an amount of money that one spouse has to pay to another after the breakdown of a marriage or common law relationship. Spousal support can be compensatory, in that it compensates one spouse for the roles assumed during the relationship. The most typical compensatory spousal support situation is where one spouse sacrifices his or her employment during the marriage to take care of the kids. Thus, that spouse requires compensation for the foregone economic opportunities.
In addition to the compensatory model, there is also a “needs-based” model. This type of support usually arises when one spouse cannot work due to a disability or other factors. It is by virtue of the relationship alone, and one spouse’s need for support, that the court will order support.
There is no formula for determining an exact amount of spousal support like there is for child support. However, there are guidelines called the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines which can provide ranges for support. The courts have increasingly used these guidelines to determine the amount of spousal support that is paid and how long it has to be paid for. However, these guidelines are only applicable once “entitlement” is determined. In other words, only once it is clear from the facts of the case that spousal support ought to be paid can spouses or the court turn to the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines to get an idea of how much support ought to be paid.
There are many different factors that determine both entitlement, amount, and duration of spousal support. Spousal support can be obtained through the court system or, if both parties agree, an alternative dispute resolution mechanism like arbitration, mediation, or even a negotiation.
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