Determining the quantum and duration of spousal support can be complicated and unclear. Unlike child support, there are no federal or provincial tables that clearly set out your entitlements. While there are advisory guidelines that the courts have informally adopted, the determination of entitlement, quantum, and duration of support is ultimately at the court’s discretion. All spousal support orders aim to meet the following objectives:
- To recognize any economic advantage or disadvantage to the spouse arising from the marriage or its breakdown. In arguing this point, it is important to make a connection between the marriage roles. A common example is where one parent quits his or her job to care for the children and now lacks the requisite experience or credentials to re-enter the workforce.
- To compensate for hidden costs. This is a less common objective because the areas of compensation often overlap with child support. One example of this type of expense is a vehicle suitable for transporting children as a single parent. If you have six children and had previously shared transportation responsibilities with your spouse, you may need to purchase a larger vehicle to cope as a single parent.
- To relieve any economic hardship of the spouses arising from the breakdown of the marriage. This is one of the more common objectives. “Economic Hardship” encompasses a number of items, such as loss of income stream, increased day care needs, and the cost of one spouse returning to school with a goal to enter or re-enter the workforce.
- To promote the economic self-sufficiency of each spouse within a reasonable period of time. This point expands on point 3 and specifically recognizes the hidden costs of going back to work. This may include tuition costs, child care costs, and any other cost incurred as a result of re-entering the workforce.
For more information on separation, divorce, and other family law matters, please visit MyOntarioDivorce.com.
Robert Berman B.C.L, LL.B
Founder & Family Lawyer