Changing a Spousal Support Order Protecting Your Family's Interests for Over 25 Years

Changing a Spousal Support Order in Ontario

Understanding Spousal Support Variations

Spousal support orders that are part of a court order, or an agreement incorporated into an order, can only be changed by way of a Motion to Change. Parties may apply to the court to vary (or change) a spousal support order under the Family Law Act, s. 37, or under the Divorce Act, s. 17.

Some factors that might change a support payor’s ability to pay, or the recipient’s need of support, include:

  • An unforeseen change in financial circumstances for either party, including job loss or a significant increase or decrease in income;
  • A disability or illness seriously affecting the payor or recipient;
  • Remarriage by either party; or
  • Retirement of the payor.

Spousal support orders may be varied with the consent of both parties by way of a Motion to Change. If both parties agree to the proposed changes, it is likely that no court appearance will be necessary (this is assuming that the provisions are reasonable and do not require any clarification).

Contested Spousal Support Changes

Parties may also proceed with a Motion to Change for contested spousal support issues by requesting the court to rule on the matter. In order to vary an existing support order, the party seeking to vary the order must prove (on a balance of probabilities) that there has been a material change “in the condition, means, needs or other circumstances” of either former spouse since the making of the spousal support order (see the Divorce Act, s. 17(4.1)).

In order to be considered “material,” the change must be one that “would likely have resulted in different terms” if those circumstances had been in existence at the time of the original order (Willick v. Willick). Further, the change cannot have in the contemplation of the parties or the judge at the time of the original order.

This can be a difficult test to meet, given that the change must be one the court making the original order did not foresee at the time and cannot be considered to have taken into account. Retirement, changes in employment, and the remarriage of one partner may all be foreseeable changes, depending on the specific circumstances of the parties. The court has discretion to determine which events constitute a material change in any given case.

The Advantages of Involving an Ontario Divorce Lawyer

The variation process is both time consuming and complex, and it requires specific legal expertise, particularly where financial security is concerned. An experienced family law lawyer is an essential resource when contemplating a change to an existing order or agreement.

Serving all of Ontario since 1994, we at Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. can provide the level of counsel you need. Call (905) 581-7222 today!

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    Andrew Feldstein

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    Andrew Feldstein graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1992. Prior to focusing exclusively on family law, Andrew’s legal practice covered many different areas, including corporate commercial. One of Andrew’s fundamental objectives is to achieve those goals mutually and collaboratively, as set out by him and his client.

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    Deleta Grandy

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    Deleta Grandy obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in 2012, where she graduated with Honours. She completed her legal studies at Western Law School, graduating with a Juris Doctor in 2016.

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    Jeff Hart

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    Jeff obtained his Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Classical Studies from McMaster University before attending law school at Queen’s.

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    Daphna Schwartz

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    Location: Markham Daphna Schwartz joined Feldstein Family Law Group, P.C. in 2007 as an associate lawyer. She was previously ...
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    Nick Slinko

    Lawyer

    Location: Vaughan Nick Slinko attended York University from 2003 until 2007 where he majored in both Law & Society and ...
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    Anna Troitschanski

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    Anna Troitschanski joined the team at Feldstein Family Law Group, P.C. in 2012. Prior to that, she practised Family Law at a boutique Newmarket firm. Her experience covers all areas of divorce and family law, including custody and access, child support, spousal support, and division of property.
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    Veronica Yeung

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    Veronica Yeung joined the Feldstein Family Law Group, P.C. as a summer student in 2014 and returned as an articling student in 2015. Following her call to the Ontario Bar in June 2016, Veronica was welcomed to the team as an associate lawyer.

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    Shana Gordon-Katz

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    Shana joined Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. as an articling student in 2017. Following her call to the Ontario Bar in June 2018, Shana was welcomed back to the firm as an associate. While completing her articles, Shana assisted with legal matters covering all areas of family law.

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    Shazia Hafiji

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    Shazia Hafiji joined Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. as a summer student in 2016 and returned as an articling student in 2017. Following her Call to the Ontario Bar in 2018, Shazia returned to the firm as an associate lawyer.

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    Lucy D'Ercole

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    Lucy D’Ercole joined Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. as a summer student in 2017 and returned as an articling student in 2018, during which she gained valuable experience in all areas of family law. Following her call to the Ontario Bar in 2019, Lucy was welcomed back to the firm as an associate lawyer.
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    Joy Pura completed her legal studies and obtained a Juris Doctor at the University of Ottawa. Prior to that, she completed ...
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