Separation or divorce can be a challenging experience to navigate. There are many things to consider during this time and perhaps one of the most significant is the issue of spousal support. If you’re wanting to learn more about calculating spousal support and what it entails, read on for more information.

What is spousal support?

Essentially, spousal support (sometimes referred to as spousal maintenance or Alimony), is money paid by one spouse to the other after separation. Typically this is decided through an agreement or court order and the amount of money paid is often determined by the differences in your net incomes (among other considerations).

Am I eligible for spousal support?

Before spousal support is paid, entitlement to spousal support first needs to be established. You are entitled to spousal support if there is a need for it based on the objectives of spousal support, which are to:

  • Deal with any economic advantages or disadvantages a spouse may face as a result of the relationship or separation
  • Share the financial consequences arising from the care of children
  • Reduce the financial hardship a spouse will experience as a result of the separation, and
  • Encourage each spouse to become financially self-sufficient within a reasonable period of time

Spousal support isn’t something that you can receive automatically after a separation (unless specified in a previous agreement). Usually, you have to apply for it. If both parties can’t agree on their own, then they’ll typically need to go to court to resolve things. When this happens, the court will consider such things as:

  • The length of your marriage or cohabitation
  • Whether one spouse stayed home to look after children while the other worked or studied 
  • Whether one spouse was more financially dependent on the other
  • Whether one spouse’s career was prioritized over the other
  • Whether one spouse’s standard of living goes down or the other’s goes up because of the separation

How much spousal support needs to be paid?

Typically this can vary depending on the situation but the usual constants for determining the amount of spousal support that will be paid is based off things like:

  • How much you and your ex-spouse earn and what you could earn
  • How long you were married
  • How many children you have
  • Each of your roles in the marriage

You can use this Spousal Support Calculator to get a rough estimate of what your spousal support payments might look like. There are also Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines that are of assistance. 

How long is spousal support paid for?

There are usually two payment options for spousal support. The first is regular monthly payments for a certain period of time or in some cases, indefinitely. This is typically based on the duration of time you and your spouse were together for and the ability for each spouse to support themselves and any children following a separation.

The other option is for a lump sum payment. Essentially this is a one-time payment where the spousal support arrangement can be settled entirely.

If you’re facing a separation or divorce and would like to learn more about spousal support and what options might be available to you, reach out to our team of expert family lawyers for trusted advice and counsel.