Who Is Eligible for Spousal Support? Protecting Your Family's Interests for Over 25 Years

Spousal Support Eligibility in Ontario

Who Is Eligible for Spousal Support?

Spousal support is not an automatic right associated with a breakdown of the marriage.

In 1999, the Supreme Court listed the three grounds necessary to establish an entitlement to spousal support (Bracklow v. Bracklow):

  • To compensate a spouse for hardship or opportunities lost due to the marriage or its breakdown;
  • To fulfill a contractual agreement, expressed or implied, that the parties were responsible for each other’s support; or
  • On a non-compensatory basis, to assist a spouse in need where there is the capacity to pay, even in the absence of a contractual or compensatory foundation for the obligation.

In other words, a spouse seeking support must demonstrate either a compensatory basis for support, need, or a contractual obligation. The latter two are fairly self-explanatory criteria. Regarding the compensatory basis of support, in 1992, the Supreme Court held in Moge v. Moge that spouses are entitled to be compensated for contributions to the marriage, and for losses sustained as a consequence of the marriage: for example, as a result of staying out of the work force in order to raise children, or putting one’s career goals on hold in order to accommodate a spouse’s career.

This decision reflects the provisions of the Divorce Act, which states (s. 15.2(4)) that the court in considering a spousal support award shall take into consideration the condition, means, needs, and other circumstances of each spouse, including the length of time the spouses cohabited; the functions performed by each spouse in the relationship; and any order, agreement or arrangement relating to support of either spouse.

The Divorce Act further states (in s. 15.2 (6)) that the 4 objectives of a spousal support order are to:

  • Recognize any economic advantages or disadvantages to the spouses arising from the marriage or its breakdown;
  • Apportion between the spouses any financial consequences arising from the care of any child of the marriage over and above any obligation for the support of any child of the marriage;
  • Relieve any economic hardship of the spouses arising from the breakdown of the marriage; and
  • In so far as practicable, promote the economic self-sufficiency of each spouse within a reasonable period of time.

Spousal support is not restricted to married parties. The Divorce Act governs spousal support for formerly married spouses, but the Family Law Act also includes spousal support provisions. In those provisions, the term “spouse” includes cohabiting couples who have lived together for a period of at least three years or cohabiting biological or adoptive parents (s. 29).

Whether the spouses are married or not, the court will not consider spousal misconduct when making a support award. This means that the conduct of either party has no impact on their entitlement for support. Even if adultery is the reason for the breakdown of the relationship, parties are still eligible to apply for spousal support.

The simplest way to initiate spousal support is by way of a separation agreement under the guidance of an Ontario family law lawyer. Lawyers use specialized software to calculate spousal support obligations that contemplate both current and future need.

For experienced counsel in your spousal support matter, call Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. at (905) 581-7222. We have offices in Markham, Vaughan, Mississauga, and Oakville and serve clients across the surrounding areas in Ontario, including in Aurora, Unionville, Kleinberg, Thornhill, Newmarket, Woodbridge, King City, Maple, and beyond.

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

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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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    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 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 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 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 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 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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