Spousal Support After Divorce (Before - During) - Zukerman Law

The Complete Guide to Spousal Support

One of the key issues that can arise during and after a divorce is spousal support, also known as alimony in some regions. Whether you’re contemplating divorce or already navigating the legal process, understanding spousal support is crucial.
Zukerman Law Group understands the complexities of family law, and our dedicated team is here to guide you through the intricacies of spousal support. We’ll help you navigate the legalities, understand your rights and options, and advocate for a fair and sustainable outcome tailored to your unique situation.

Before Divorce

Before Divorce

Understanding Spousal Support

Spousal support, also known as alimony or spousal maintenance, is a financial payment made by one spouse to another after a separation or divorce. It’s intended to help the spouse who has less income maintain a similar standard of living to what they had during the marriage.

Who Can Ask for Spousal Support?

Spousal support is available to individuals who were married, lived together in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years, or had a child with their ex-spouse. However, you are not automatically entitled to spousal support; you must apply for it.
The court considers factors such as whether one partner stayed home to care for the children, worked part-time, prioritized their career, or moved to improve the other’s job or career. If either partner struggled to find a job due to being out of the workforce, they may be financially dependent on the other.
The end of the relationship may lead to a significant decrease in either partner’s or spouse’s standard of living, and the standard of living may differ significantly between the two. Additionally, the applicant may need financial assistance to become self-sufficient.
According to the Divorce Act, either spouse in a divorce can ask for spousal maintenance. The spouse with the lower income typically requests spousal support. To decide whether to give spousal support in each case, a judge must take into account a number of considerations, such as:

  • The financial means, needs, and circumstances of both spouses;
  • The length of time the spouses have lived together;
  • The roles of each spouse during their marriage;
  • The effect of those roles and the breakdown of the marriage on both spouses’ current financial positions;
  • The ongoing responsibilities for the care of the children, if any;
  • Any previous orders, agreements, or arrangements already made about spousal support.

Consulting a Lawyer

Going through a divorce is a significant life event with far-reaching legal and financial implications. Seeking legal advice early in the process is crucial to understanding your rights, obligations, and options regarding spousal support and other key aspects of divorce.
Consulting with a qualified family law attorney early in the divorce process can provide several important benefits. Zukerman Law Group specializes in family law and provides comprehensive legal services tailored to clients facing divorce or contemplating marriage dissolution. Contact Zukerman Law Group today for a consultation to discuss your case and explore your options.

During divorce

During Divorce

Negotiating Spousal Support

The process of negotiating spousal support involves assessing each spouse’s financial circumstances, assessing their post-divorce financial needs, and evaluating the paying spouse’s ability to provide support. Negotiations typically involve discussions on the amount, duration, and type of spousal support, considering factors like the length of the marriage, household contributions, and each party’s earning capacity.
In some cases, couples may opt for mediation or collaborative divorce to facilitate negotiations, involving neutral third parties to help reach mutually acceptable agreements.

After Divorce

After Divorce

Modifying Support Orders

After a divorce is finalized, circumstances may change over time that warrant a modification of spousal support arrangements. Here are common circumstances under which support orders can be modified:

  • Change in Financial Situation: If either party experiences a significant change in income or financial status, such as job loss, promotion, or retirement, this can be grounds for modifying spousal support.
  • Change in Living Expenses: Unexpected changes in living expenses or financial needs, such as medical expenses or childcare costs, may necessitate a modification of support.
  • Duration of Support: Spousal support may be subject to modification based on the duration specified in the original divorce decree or settlement agreement.
  • Remarriage or Cohabitation: In some jurisdictions, spousal support may be modified or terminated if the recipient spouse remarries or begins cohabiting with a new partner.
How Long Will You Get Spousal Support?

How Long Will You Get Spousal Support?

Spousal support orders or agreements are typically temporary. The length of time you and your spouse were together usually determines this period.

For each year you were married or lived together, spousal support typically lasts for six months to a year. However, spousal support may continue indefinitely if you were married for a long period and you are elderly at the time of your divorce. After you (typically the payor) retire, the end date would be determined later.
For example, if you were married or lived together for 15 years, you might get spousal support for 7½ to 15 years.

When Can I Stop Paying Spousal Support?

When Can I Stop Paying Spousal Support?

You are required to keep paying spousal support if it is specified in a written agreement or a court order unless:

  • The order is changed by a court;
  • You and your former spouse agree to change your agreement; or
  • The conditions for stopping payment, as set out in the order or agreement, have been met.

A court can modify a spousal maintenance order only when there’s been a substantial change in one spouse’s circumstances. For example, if the supporting spouse loses their job post-order finalization and can’t meet the required payments, the court may consider revising the support arrangement.
If you and your former spouse have a spousal support agreement, you can modify it to reflect your new circumstances. However, both parties must consent to any changes to take effect.
If the agreement clearly states that spousal support will end on a specific date or event, payment can stop at that point. For instance, if the agreement states that spousal support will end on December 1st, 2020, your obligation to pay will end at that time.

Conclusion

Understanding spousal support is essential during divorce, as it affects your financial well-being both during and after the legal proceedings. By knowing the different types, factors involved, and possible adjustments, you can approach this matter with more clarity and assurance.
Remember, you don’t have to face these complexities alone. Zukerman Law Group offers comprehensive legal guidance and representation throughout every stage of your divorce.
Our team possesses the knowledge and Highly Experienced to advocate for a fair and sustainable spousal support arrangement that reflects your unique circumstances.

FAQs

How long do you have to support your spouse after divorce?

The judge has the discretion to determine the duration of one ex-spouse’s support for the other, with some assuming it should last half as long as the marriage, and adjusting it based on various factors.

How long does spousal support last in Canada?

The length of support for post-separation families without children varies from half to a year for every year of marriage (or cohabitation); after twenty years of marriage, the period becomes indefinite.

Can my ex-wife claim money after divorce in Canada?

A woman must file a claim for equalization of family property within six years of separation or two years of divorce. A couple is considered separated if there is no reasonable prospect of resuming cohabitation.

author

Stuart Zukerman

Stuart Zukerman, a graduate of the University of British Columbia, has over 32 years of experience in litigation with a focus on Family Law, Personal Injury, Wrongful Dismissal claims, and Collaborative Divorce & Mediation. He has extensive trial experience in divorce, child custody, spousal support, asset division, and ICBC injury claims. As an accredited Family Law Mediator, he helps resolve disputes without court intervention. Stuart has also authored papers on family law and lectured at CLE courses.