Spousal support

When you separate or divorce, sometimes one spouse may have to pay financial support to the other. This is called spousal support, and is paid in addition to money exchanged during division of shared property. Not everyone gets spousal support - it depends on how you supported each other during the relationship, how long you were together and whether you can both support yourselves after the relationship ends.

Spouses can agree to pay support as part of a separation agreement or let a judge decide. A judge will consider whether the spouse has a right to spousal support. The judge will look at what financial advantages or disadvantages the spouses had during the relationship and as a result of the break-up. The judge will also consider what other financial obligations must be paid, such as child support. If you want to apply for a support order, you should speak to a lawyer.

Spousal support can be paid as one lump-sum payment or as regular payments over a period of time. Spousal support that is paid on an ongoing (usually monthly) basis can be either time-limited or indefinite. There are differing tax consequences for lump sum versus ongoing support and you should seek legal advice about what is best for your circumstances.

The enforcement of spousal support orders is handled by the Maintenance Enforcement Program. If you have a court order/agreement clearly stating the spousal support obligation terms, you can register that document with their office by completing a registration kit. Once registered, you can track your support payments online.

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