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How Long Do You Have to Pay Spousal Support in Canada

How Long Do You Have to Pay Spousal Support in Canada

Getting a divorce can never be a pleasant experience for anyone. A person who was supposed to stay with you for life long leaves you midway; nothing can be more pathetic than this. However, you need to take care of your spouse after it to support your spouse to have a good life.

Don’t worry; you don’t have to stay together for that. But you will need to support your spouse financially for a certain amount of time. But, how long do you have to pay spousal support in Canada?

Do you need to take care of this all life long?

Or can you get rid of this responsibility after some time?

Well, it is a crucial question. Go through the entire following discussion to find out the answer yourself.

What is Spousal Support in Canada?

Under the divorce act of Canada, when there are significant income differences or one party compromises their income due to childcare, the other party has to pay a certain amount as spousal support.

However, it is not the only scale every time. Sometimes, the less-earning spouse may not receive spousal support even after having a low income.

If one spouse has more assets or if the income difference isn’t possible to determine during their marriage, the court may choose not to provide any spousal support. Again, the time you have been a couple before divorcing will impact this.

For example, a common-law spouse must live together for two or three years. It is the same for many states in Canada to become eligible for spousal support.

How is Spousal Support Decided?

You will go through two steps before the court decides on spousal support. The court will check whether you are eligible for spousal support at first.

You can fix the amount and duration of spousal support if eligible. Sometimes, even after having a right to support, you might not get any spousal support looking at some other aspects.

Here are the details:


If you need spousal support, you are entitled to it. The spousal support target is to consider your ability to support yourself and its effect on your child care. For example, childcare obligations may prevent one parent from working full-time or pursuing a profession.

You can also use spousal support to create opportunities for your spouse and support their ambitions or profession. You will also need it to reduce the financial stress you received from the divorce or to help your spouse until they become financially independent.

When you are eligible for spousal support, you will know how much and how long you get it.

Amount and Duration

After considering both of the spouse’s unique circumstances, the duration and amount of the spousal support are calculated, which includes:

  • The financial circumstances of both you and your ex-spouse
  • The time you and your partner stayed together and your relationship lasted
  • Each of your responsibilities and duties throughout the marriage
  • The skills or education you or your partner need to become self-sufficient
  • All these factors will decide how much and how long you will receive spousal support.  

How is the Spousal Support Duration Determined?

The duration of a spousal support order varies from case to case. Also, there are some measures to help the court to maintain consistency in family court rulings.

The federal Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines is one of the tools courts use to determine the amount and duration of spousal support in a particular circumstance.

The judge can fix the amount of spousal support by focusing on three calculations: one low, one average, and one high, but these are only some suggestions. The decision-maker can change the amount and duration of the spousal support to reflect any other factors not considered earlier.

When you and your spouse have children, it becomes a key factor to consider, which can impact both the amount and duration of support. If you have no children, spousal support is usually granted for six months to a year for each year you and your spouse stay together.

If you have kids, the child support will depend on either how long you two have been married or until the youngest child graduates from high school, whichever shows the most amount of time.

When does Spousal Support End?

The judge will fix the amount and duration of support based on the previous ideas after the court has confirmed one of your eligibility for spousal support. The duration of time and the amount to be paid usually depend on the duration of the marriage and other unique conditions.

However, there are more guidelines to consider, which are:

  • The payment duration will end with the death of any of the spouse
  • If there is any life insurance or other assets, it can continue paying the spousal support even after the payer passes away; it will not be stopped.
  • It may stop when the recipient spouse marries or moves in with a new partner, but it isn’t automatic.
  • It will stop as soon as the payer retires from work.

Some spousal support agreements include a date or event marking the support change. If not, then the payment process will continue.

It will definitely have an ending at a point, but you and your ex-spouse both must agree to do so, or else the judge will have to decide. Besides, a support order can get a review date, making it easy to modify or terminate the support payment process. Consulting a spousal support lawyer in this regard is highly recommended.

How Can You Terminate Spousal Support Early?

The court may not take into account your termination request for spousal support for any usual issue. But they will surely assess your case again to determine whether there is any big issue. 

In the following section, you will know how to terminate your spousal support early.

1. Look at Your Spousal Support Contract

First, you need to check if your separation agreement mentions the time of ending the spousal support or if your order has a review date.

Most of the time, it mentions that support will terminate with any particular event, such as your ex-spouses’ second marriage or college graduation.

2. Examine Your Situation to See if Anything has Changed Significantly.

Check your current circumstances to see if they are considerable enough for the court to take them into account before you move forward with it. The legal counsel will be evaluating this.

As the court has previously considered all the facts before making an order, you will need to ask the court to modify the decision. It will only be terminated when you can provide some fresh evidence to the court. 

What you can show are:

  • You have lost your job and can’t find a new way of earning.
  • Your ex-spouse has moved in with a new partner, and s/he is now providing a full support.
  • Your ex-spouse was promoted at the workplace and didn’t need spousal support anymore.
  • Your ex-spouse is now self-supporting, getting a boost in the financial situation.
  • There were significant adjustments have been made in terms of child care.

3. Talk about It with Your Ex-spouse

It’s best to talk about this whole situation with your ex-spouse and find a peaceful resolution when you two are still on good terms. A mediator, an in-person meeting with legal counsel, or both can help you in this situation. It will be best if you come to an understanding and create a new spousal support agreement, and take approval from the court. 

If spousal support was fixed in your divorce’s final court decision, and you and your partner agree to terminate it, submit the necessary paperwork and request a new court order.

4. Terminate the Spousal Support by Applying to the Court

Submit a request to your local family court in order to start legal proceedings so that you can end the spousal support as soon as possible. Usually, a lawyer is needed for this.

If you believe that spousal support should terminate due to a big change in circumstances, you must convince the judge first about your position.

When you have a case, you must have an experienced divorce lawyer as well to manage it properly. They will also be able to give you advice on how to make your case for support termination stronger.

What Might Trigger an Early Termination of Spousal Support?

Some of the conditions can cause a change or termination of spousal support, regardless of whether it has been granted forever or for a particular amount of time. You need to consider the new circumstances as a major change in order to request the termination of spousal support successfully. 

The considerable situations are:

  • Ex-spouses’ remarriage or the beginning of a new relationship.
  • Reduction of financial support and needs.
  • Long-term change in your earning capacity, like retirement, sickness, or injury.
  • Ex-spouses’ promotion or inheritance of a lot of property.

To Wrap Up

Leading a life alone is difficult, but it is not as painful as living with someone you hate. Yet, you need to pay attention to your partner’s needs so they can lead a decent life and make a strong spot in society.

It is your responsibility, especially when you have a child with that person. But you can get rid of this responsibility as soon as the other person gets a stable position.


What is the procedure in Canada for ending spousal support?

  1. An effective agreement of the settlement.
  2. Continue to live within your living standard.
  3. Adultery incident of your spouse.
  4. Show that your spouse is not dependent on you for money.
  5. Take the help of an earlier agreement.
  6. Contribute to asset depletion.
  7. Show you have a financially hard time.
  8. Ask for a modification in your agreement
  9. No hasty decisions
  10. Maintain spousal support guidelines. 

How Can Lawyers Help You Avoid Spousal Support?

A lawyer can help you in the following ways:

  • Give you advice on the best ways to avoid paying spousal support.
  • Help you create a divorce agreement that requires no such payments.
  • Gather all the documents required for your case. It contains official records of financial transactions and requirements.
  • Ask a judge to review your case so they can fix what is right for you.
  • Make sure you get the opportunity to share your perspective.

Do I Have to Pay Spousal Support while Separating in Canada?

Divorce or separation cases don’t always require spousal support. You can ask the judge to make a choice when you and your spouse cannot reach a decision. They will fix how much and for how long support should be given.

Does Spousal Support Last Forever?

No, it doesn’t. But, you must provide spousal support until several requirements are completed. For example – if your ex-partner marries again or starts seeing someone else. However, the judge’s ultimate decision will determine how long spousal support will be paid.

If I fail to pay my spousal support, what will happen?

The possible consequences of failing to pay spousal support are:

  • Getting the money from you, the parent who is making the payment.
  • Deduction in the payments from your paychecks or other sources of income, like sales commissions and insurance.
  • A lien on your real estate or personal property
  • A court order against someone helping you hide your assets or income.
  • Your driver’s license suspension
  • Passport cancellation


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