Do I have to pay spousal support to my ex?

If one party earns significantly more than the other, and the lower earner has a need for support, it may be appropriate. The longer the marriage lasted and the greater disparity between your incomes will determine if support is appropriate.

The longer your marriage and the greater the difference between your incomes, the more likely it is that you will have to pay or receive spousal support.

There are three reasons a spouse would be entitled to support/alimony in Ontario:

1. Compensatory basis: largely designed to compensate the spouse who gave up their career and/or financial opportunities to take care of the home and family, while the other spouse maintained or furthered their own career or earning potential.

The two key factors that impact compensation are:

  • If the lower-income spouse has a significant number of assets
  • If the differences in the two incomes are unrelated to anything that happened
    during the marriage

In addition to a financial disparity, a judge may also base spousal support on the following:

  • The financial needs of each spouse
  • The length of the marriage
  • The likelihood of one spouse becoming self-sufficient after receiving support for a period of time
  • What roles you and your spouse took on during your marriage
    • Specifically, if there was a joint decision for one party to forgo pursuing a career.
  • If those roles and the dissolution of your marriage affected either spouse’s financial position
  • How the children will be cared for (if applicable)
Niagara Mediation - Spousal Support

2. Non-compensatory basis: (also referred to as “needs-based”) recognizes that the breakdown of the relationship left a spouse at a financial disadvantage that cannot otherwise be corrected, and the higher income spouse has the ability to help.

3. Contractual basis: the spouses have a pre-existing cohabitation agreement, marriage contract (“prenup” or “postnup”), or other valid agreement or contract of their domestic relationship that covers spousal support in the event of separation.

How much spousal support will I have to pay?

Predicting the amount of spousal support is more difficult than child support.

The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines are often being used by the Courts to set the amount of spousal support. Although these are mere guidelines for a range for spousal support, the gross income difference between the spouses, the length of the marriage, the age of the spouse at separation, and whether child support is being paid will all be considered.

Can the amount of spousal support vary over time?

Spousal support usually remains constant, although some circumstances may allow for a variance. A significant change in circumstances may allow for a change in the spousal support. In some cases, spousal support may be indefinite, depending on the length of the marriage and the roles adopted during the marriage. This amount will not normally be changed without agreement of your spouse or a Court Order.

Is Spousal Support tax deductible/payable?

Monthly spousal support is tax deductible by the payor and included as taxable income by the recipient.

What happens if one party meets someone new?

A new partner is unlikely to impact the existing spousal support obligations that are in place from a previous relationship.

In most cases, the courts will respect the first set of family obligations you take on and will usually not reduce support obligations (child and/or spousal support) to your first family because of responsibilities and obligations you have undertaken after separation.