Spousal Support and Sponsorship Agreements

Today, we will be talking about the issue of spousal support in situations where the recipient spouse has been sponsored to Ontario.

Hello, my name is Shilpa Mehta and I am a lawyer with the Feldstein Family Law Group.

Today, I will be talking to you about the issue of spousal support in situations where the recipient spouse has been sponsored to Ontario. With this video blog, I want to make you aware of the very serious responsibilities you are taking on if you sponsor a spouse to come to Canada from another country. This has implications for both spousal support and child support. When sponsoring a spouse from another country, the sponsor must agree to provide the sponsored spouse his or her basic requirements including food, clothing, shelter, fuel, utilities, household supplies, personal requirements, and other goods and services, including dental care, eye care, and other health needs not provided by public health care. That’s a big commitment. In essence, the sponsor has assumed responsibility to provide sufficient money, goods or services for the sponsored spouse to live in Canada. And that’s not all. The latter obligation continues until the last day of the three years following the day on which the sponsored spouse becomes a permanent resident of Canada. Should the sponsor fail to provide the sponsored spouse with the promised necessities and he or she is forced to rely on social assistance, the sponsor will be required to reimburse the Canadian government for any assistance received by their partner.

Matters that fall into the category of a short marriage involving an immigration sponsorship agreement, raise some distinctive issues under the without child support formula for the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines, or SSAG. These are cases where a marriage breaks down while a sponsorship agreement is in place. In some cases involving very short marriages, courts have used the duration of the sponsorship agreement as the appropriate time period for which spousal support should be paid. In other words, three years. As well, in such cases, some courts have also ordered support in an amount beyond the high end of the range to generate an amount of support that will meet the recipient’s basic needs and ensure that the recipient is not forced to resort to social assistance.

While the Canadian government’s main concern is that the recipient spouse not rely on government dollars to sustain himself or herself, there exists case law which suggests that social assistance is irrelevant to the determination of support where there is no indication that the sponsored spouse may need government assistance. Essentially, where a sponsored spouse has been able to attain employment, the SSAGs should again be consulted to determine the appropriate range of spousal support.

As the SSAGs are not legislated, it is important that parties consult with a lawyer to determine appropriate support provisions. But in cases where the recipient spouse has been sponsored, it is even more crucial to seek legal advice as there are a plethora of corollary issues that must be considered to determine the fair amount of support payable and often, the SSAGs offer no guidance in this regard.

If you would like to learn more about this or any other family law topics, visit our website. If you need legal advice about your own situation, please call us at (905) 581-7222 to schedule an initial consultation. Thanks for watching.

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