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Spousal Support

What is spousal support and is it an automatic entitlement?
How is spousal support calculated?
How long will spousal support last?

What is spousal support and is it an automatic entitlement?

Spousal support is money that is paid by one spouse to the other spouse after the relationship has ended. It is sometimes called alimony or maintenance. Spouses are not automatically entitled to receive spousal support. To decide if you should get spousal support, a judge will look at several factors including the length of the relationship, both of your ages, education, and income levels and net worth. The judge would look at employment history and financial consequences of separation and whether one person was financially dependent on the other during the relationship.

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How is spousal support calculated?

Justice Canada has released a set of guidelines entitled the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAG). They are intended to simplify the process of calculating spousal support amounts. They were developed to assist lawyers, judges and individuals wanting to estimate spousal support. They include formulas for estimating spousal support – the formulas involve calculations that take into account different factors, including whether there are children of the marriage, both parties’ income, the length of the relationship, etc. There are no “tables” for you to use to calculate spousal support.

*The SSAG are used in an advisory capacity ONLY. This means that unlike the Child Support guidelines, they are not mandatory. You should consult a lawyer to find out whether you might be entitled to spousal support and to estimate the amount of support.

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How long will spousal support last?

The court can grant spousal support for an indefinite period or a definite period (i.e. for a period of two years). The judge will decide based on a number of characteristics such as how long it might take the dependent spouse to become self-supporting, get a better job or secure their financial safety.

Fore more information, see our fact sheet "When does Spousal Support End?"

*For detailed information, please refer to Spousal Support”.

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