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How is spousal support decided?

During a marriage, spouses usually share their love, their time and their income. They both invest in their life together. But unlike an investment with a bank that pays a given amount of interest, an investment in a life together is difficult to add up and then divide.

Both spouses’ contributions to a marraige all have value. There are multiple things to consider when determining spousal support.

For example, you may have worked and paid all the bills. Maybe you worked while your spouse trained to get a better job. Or you may have helped in your spouse’s business. Often, a spouse gives up a job so that he or she can stay home, manage the household, and care for the children. The Divorce Act sets out factors and goals to be considered when figuring out if one spouse should pay another spouse financial support after a divorce. Among these factors are answers to the following questions.

  • How long did you live together?
  • What was your role in the marriage?
  • Who is living with the children?
  • The amount of spousal support to be paid depends on the needs of each spouse and on their income and resources.

Other things are also important. The law sets several goals to keep in mind.

  • Spousal support should give value to the contributions made during the marriage. If one spouse has benefited financially from a contribution, the other spouse should be compensated.
  • Another goal is to make sure that after a marriage is over, one spouse doesn’t suffer economic hardship.
  • A third goal is to make sure that the spouse who lives with the children is not at a financial disadvantage because of that.
  • Finally, spousal support should help each spouse become economically independent within a reasonable amount of time, if possible.

A judge can order one spouse to pay spousal support to the other for a particular amount of time or indefinitely.