Getting past the Ontario court’s discretion regarding spousal support

This article discusses spousal support in an Ontario divorce.

As much as people like to think that each partner in a marriage is equal to the other, reality often does not bear that out. Instead, each contributes differently to the marriage and the sustainability of the household. These arrangements often work well during the good times, but when a marriage sours and divorce is on the horizon, it can put one party at a disadvantage financially.

Since an award of spousal support is discretionary here in Ontario, those seeking this type of support will first have to show a need for it. Only after doing so will the court entertain the duration and amount of such payments.

Illustrating entitlement to spousal support

What types of situations illustrate a need for support?

· Contractual spousal support: If the parties entered into a marriage contract, a cohabitation agreement or some other agreement exists in which one party agrees to pay spousal support to the other if the relationship ends.

· Non-compensatory spousal support: If one party has the assets and income to support the other party who does not have the same financial means, a need for spousal support arises.

· Compensatory spousal support: If one party's responsibilities in the relationship took him or her out of the workforce, then the court may require the other party to compensate that individual. This situation most often applies to those who left a career to raise children or support the other party as he or she built a career.

Some individuals may fall into more than one of these scenarios. One thing to keep in mind is that the law expects those receiving spousal support to reach a point where they can support themselves within a reasonable amount of time. The court looks at each person's income and overall financial situation. In addition, the court looks at the duration of the relationship, along with who took care of any children of the parties.

Determining amount and duration of spousal support

In addition to the already identified factors, the court looks at additional factors such as age, physical and mental health, and each party's capability to earn a living. The larger the disparity of income, the longer the length of the relationship and the presence of children could mean a higher amount of support for a longer amount of time. Once the court gathers this information, it may refer to the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines to come to a final determination.

This may seem like a fairly cut and dried way to award spousal support, but there is more to it. Other circumstances could affect the amount and duration of support. These factors apply to both the party ordered to pay and the party receiving support. These extraneous factors could lower or raise the final amount of support and the amount of time it's paid.

Seeking help in obtaining spousal support

Many Ontario residents may believe that their need for spousal support is clear, but it probably won't be that simple. In order to ensure the best odds that an individual receives the full amount of support to which he or she is entitled, it would most likely be beneficial to discuss the matter with a lawyer who can review the situation, explain the individual's rights and devise a strategy for pursuing this vital component of many divorces.