Spousal Support

In Ontario, depending upon the circumstances of the parties during the relationship and at separation, spousal support may be payable by one spouse to the other:

(a) if they were married; or

(b) if they were unmarried and

      (i) they cohabited continuously for a period of at least 3 years; or

      (ii) they cohabited in a relationship of some permanence and are the natural or adoptive parents of a child.

Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAGs).  In Ontario, the SSAGs affect all discussions with respect to the payment of spousal support.  Unlike the Child Support Guidelines, the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines do not have the force of law and separated spouses are not bound by them.  However, should the issue of spousal support be placed before a family court judge, the court would be obliged to consider, if not necessarily apply them. Accordingly, the SSAGs form a back-drop to all spousal support negotiations and significant weight is given them in determining the amount and duration of support.

Unlike the Child Support Guidelines, there is no Table of spousal support based upon the payor’s income.  The amount and duration of spousal support are calculated based on a formula that considers factors such as the age of the parties at separation, the age of the youngest child of the parties at separation, the length of time the parties lived together, and the incomes of the parties.

The SSAGs provide a recommended range of support in both amount and duration.  For instance, they may recommend that spousal support be paid in a range of $1,000.00 to $1,800.00 per month for a duration of 5 to 7 years.

Spousal support is only income tax deductible for the payor and included in the income of the recipient, where the support provision is contained in a court Order or set out in a valid Separation Agreement

The payment of spousal support, if any, is properly determined only after calculating any child support obligation and a division of property between the parties.

Income.  One of the central issues in determining spousal support is very often the determination of the payor’s income for spousal support purposes.  This is especially so where the payor is self-employed, is employed through a family business, or owns rental or other property that does not routinely earn significant income and/or may be used to deduct from other income the expenses of the payor.