Offices in Ottawa and Perth
(613) 722-1500

CONTACT US (613) 722-1500

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin

Is There An End in Sight: Spousal Support

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Is There An End in Sight: Spousal Support

Posted March 4, 2019

Spousal support is a sensitive topic for many people going through a separation. Many payors are surprised by how much support they might be required to pay a spouse or former spouse, and even more surprised by just how long the obligation might last.

Some court orders or separation agreements have built-in end dates or termination dates for spousal support. Everyone agrees or the court orders that support needs to be paid for 5 or 10 years, and once all the payments are made the obligation is fully satisfied.

In many cases though, most frequently in separations where the relationship was long, the potential duration for spousal support is indefinite. This does not necessarily mean that the payor will be paying for the rest of his or her life (although it can – and indeed the obligation survives the death of the payor and typically requires corresponding security in the form of life insurance or similar) but it will often mean that support will be reviewed at some point in the future. A review date can be scheduled or can occur simultaneously with a major life event, such as retirement. No review will guarantee termination, and not all reviews result in a reduction of spousal support. The facts at the time of the review and the time of the original order or agreement are all relevant and unique to each case.

For many couples who were legally married and went through an equalization process as part of their separation, retirement may be the point at which both parties start relying on assets that are already equalized in order to support themselves, and those equalized assets are generally going to be excluded from the parties’ respective incomes for support purposes, and can result in a termination of support.

Sometimes there are events specified in the court order or separation agreement that trigger a review. For example: remarrying or retiring could be specified as an event that triggers a review, whether or not support actually increases or decreases as a result. It can be very helpful to include such specifics in agreements so that the parties have the certainty of knowing when support will be re-examined. If there is an argument about appropriate ongoing support at that point, at least the issues of whether a review is justified will be dealt with in advance.

With the current demographic changes in Canada and the retirement of baby boomers, the courts are dealing with many reviews of spousal support resulting from the retirement (or desired retirement) of the payor. It is not the case that retirement automatically entitles a payor to reduce or stop support, and there are many cases where a court determines that it is not appropriate to allow the payor to retire at the date of the review. Again, specifying in the original order or agreement what a reasonable retirement age might be, or what events will trigger a review can help to set expectations and limit the scope of the argument when one party is looking to reduce his or her income and therefore support.

Getting proper advice on an agreement or court order at first instance is important, as is having competent counsel who can advise you through a review or contested variation proceeding.

This blog post was written by Jenny Johnston, a member of our Family Law team.  She can be reached at 613-566-2081 or at jenny.johnston@mannlawyers.com.

More Resources

Blog |
Employment, Labour, and Human Rights

By: 

Generally, the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) has been interpreted to protect non-unionized employees from “temporary” lay offs unless their employment contract permits such a[...]
Blog |
Business Law

By: 

Posted October 20, 2021

On October 19, 2021, the new Ontario Business Registry System launched. This new online registry now enables businesses and not-for-profit corporations to directly access services[...]
Blog |
Environmental Law

By: 

Posted October 14, 2021

In the decision of Greenpeace Canada (2471256 Canada Inc. v. Ontario (Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks), 2021 ONSC 4521, released September 3, 2021,[...]
Blog |
Employment, Labour, and Human Rights

By: 

Posted October 1, 2021

This blog continues our exploration of the potential employment law consequences stemming from the degree of control a party exerts within a variety of business[...]
Blog |
Personal Injury

By: 

Posted September 27, 2021

Personal Injury lawyers and their clients are all too familiar with the carnage and suffering caused by impaired drivers.  Canada has the worst rate of[...]
Blog |
Bankruptcy and Insolvency, Business Law

By: 

Posted September 24, 2021

As is noted by the Court of Appeal in McEwen (Re), released August 12, 2021, referred to here as “Traders”, the BIA is a complete[...]

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Name*
Consent*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.