Spousal Support Duration In BC - Zukerman Law

How Long Does Spousal Support Last?

Spousal support, commonly known as alimony, plays a crucial role in many divorce settlements by providing financial assistance to a spouse after the marriage ends. One of the fundamental questions often asked during divorce proceedings is: How long does spousal support last? Understanding the duration of spousal support is essential for both parties involved, as it can significantly impact financial stability and future planning.
In this blog, we will delve into the factors that influence the duration of spousal support, the different types of spousal support arrangements, and the legal considerations that affect its duration.

Who is Eligible for Spousal Support?

Who is Eligible for Spousal Support?

Spousal support is not an automatic right and income difference alone isn’t enough to warrant it. The ex-spouse must prove legal entitlement, based on compensatory, needs-based, and contractual grounds, before claiming it.
Compensatory support is based on exactly what it sounds like. For any hardship, contributions to the marriage, and/or losses incurred as a result of the marriage, a spouse is entitled to compensation.
For example, if one spouse put their career on hold to support the other spouse’s career, or if one spouse was out of the workforce to raise the children, that spouse may be entitled to support.
Tip: Determining eligibility for spousal support, especially when considering the various factors at play, can be a complex process. Zukerman Law Group’s experienced family law attorneys can help you navigate the legalities of spousal support.
We can assess your specific situation, determine if you have a case for spousal support, and represent you effectively throughout the process. Don’t go through this challenging time alone. Contact Zukerman Law Group today for a consultation and ensure your rights are protected.

Duration of Spousal Support

Spousal support duration in British Columbia is not fixed and can be temporary or indefinite, depending on the case’s unique circumstances.
The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines help determine fair entitlement between parties in British Columbia. Relevant factors for consideration:

Relationship/Marriage Length

One important consideration when evaluating spousal support is the length of the partnership. In general, the possibility that spousal support will last for a significant amount of time increases with the length of the marriage.
The financially disadvantaged spouse in a long-term marriage could take more time to get accustomed to an independent financial condition because they may have grown accustomed to a certain lifestyle.
Having said that, the current case law indicates that the disadvantaged spouse also has a responsibility to be self-sufficient and, in some situations, to provide evidence to the courts that they have made efforts to secure employment.

Age and Health of Spouses

Age and health are important considerations in determining the length of spousal support. If the supported spouse is of advanced age or in poor health, making it challenging to become self-supporting, courts may extend the duration of spousal support.
Age and health factors can impact one’s ability to enter or re-enter the workforce, affecting their financial independence post-divorce. Additionally, if the supporting spouse is considerably younger or in better health, they may be expected to provide support for a longer period, considering the circumstances and needs of the supported spouse.

Income Disparity

Spousal support duration is determined by income disparity between spouses. Courts may award spousal support to balance financial discrepancies, aiming to provide the lower-earning spouse with financial support to maintain a similar standard of living.

Financial Contributions and Sacrifices

The financial contributions and sacrifices made by each spouse during the partnership will be examined by the court. Longer-term support may be granted based on factors such as one spouse giving up their own job chances to support the other’s career advancement.
Occasionally, we find that one spouse has cared for the kids and, in the end, sacrificed their professional opportunity to help their spouse. When deciding on spousal support, a court will also take this into account.

Self-Supporting Ability

The court will evaluate the recipient spouse’s capacity to self-support within a reasonable time, considering factors like education, job skills, and employment opportunities.

Other Factors in Play

Spousal support can sometimes be provided all at once rather than gradually over time. If one party cannot be trusted to make payments over an extended period of time, or if they are close to retirement age and a pension division will not be adequate to support a receiving party, the court will make this decision. The two parties involved are also free to jointly decide on a lump sum payment by agreement.

Can Spousal Support Be Indefinite?

Can Spousal Support Be Indefinite?

Spousal support duration ranges from six months to one year for each year of cohabitation/marriage. After 20 years or more in a relationship, the duration becomes indefinite. In this sense, indefinite does not imply permanent. It simply means that no end date can be set at the time the court order or negotiated spousal support agreement was made.
The “rule of 65” is another situation where the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines suggest indefinite duration. The rule of 65 states that spousal support is indefinite if the total of the years of cohabitation or marriage and the support recipient’s age on the date of separation is 65 or higher. The reduced earning potential that comes with approaching retirement age is recognized by the rule of 65.
Indefinite spousal support is subject to change over time due to factors like income changes, retirement, or repartnering. The lower income recipient spouse is obligated to make reasonable efforts towards self-sufficiency, even if they cannot fully achieve it. Failure to do so may result in income imputation and reduced support.


In conclusion, understanding how long spousal support lasts is essential for individuals navigating divorce or separation proceedings. The duration of spousal support is influenced by several factors, including the duration of the marriage, income disparities between spouses, and the age and health of the parties involved.
Whether you are seeking or contesting spousal support, seeking legal advice can help clarify your rights and options. At Zukerman Law Group, our experienced attorneys are committed to providing compassionate and effective representation to clients facing spousal support issues.
Contact us online or call us at 604-575-5464 to get started.


1) How long does spousal support last in Canada?

Spousal support typically lasts between six months and one year for each year of marriage or living together. However, if the couple is older and married for a long time, the end date may not be determined until the payor retires.

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

Judges typically award spousal support for half the duration of a marriage, ending upon the death of either spouse or the recipient’s remarriage.

3) Is there a limitation period for spousal support?

A woman may be eligible for spousal support if she has been married for at least three years or has had a child together. There is no limitation period within which she must apply.

4) Can my ex-wife claim my pension years after divorce in Canada?

Benefits under the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) may be split after a year if you separate or are divorced. For every year that you were together, you both received half of the CPP contributions that you made.


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.