Spousal support is also commonly referred to as alimony. When a marriage breaks down a spouse does not automatically have a right to support. This means that they do not have the right to be maintained in the lifestyle they have been accustomed to. However, the Court may order spousal support where one spouse has suffered a disadvantage either as a result of the marriage or its breakdown, the financial consequences of the care of any child(ren) and the possibility of the spouse becoming self-sufficient. It is important to note that child support is always given priority over spousal support.
In Canada under the Divorce Act, Judges must consider a number of factors when deciding if a spouse should get support after a divorce. These factors include:
Judges must also consider whether spousal support would meet the following purpose
The Federal government has drafted Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines. However, these guidelines are informal and only advisory in nature – they are not legally binding (unlike the Federal Child Support Guidelines). The formula for calculating the amount and duration of support is complicated and it is suggested that spouses seek legal advice.