Family Law
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Spousal Support: 5 Things You Need to Know Before Signing

Written by
The Tabuchi Law Team
Published on
September 4, 2023

What is spousal support?

Spousal support, also known as alimony, is financial assistance that one spouse pays to the other spouse after separation or divorce. The purpose of spousal support is to help the recipient spouse maintain their standard of living and become financially independent.

Spousal support is not automatic. The court will consider several factors when determining whether or not to award spousal support and, if so, how much to award. These factors include:

  • The length of the marriage or relationship
  • The income and assets of each spouse
  • The needs of the recipient's spouse
  • The contributions of each spouse to the marriage or relationship
  • The impact of the separation or divorce on each spouse

Top 5 things you need to know

If you are considering signing a spousal support agreement, it is crucial to understand the law and your rights. Here are five things you need to know before signing:

1. Know your rights. Under Ontario law, you have the right to receive spousal support if you are financially dependent on your spouse and cannot meet your reasonable needs after separation or divorce. You also have the right to negotiate a spousal support agreement with your spouse.

2. Get legal advice. Speaking to a lawyer before signing a spousal support agreement is essential. A lawyer can explain the law and help you understand your rights and options. A lawyer can also help you to negotiate a fair and equitable spousal support agreement on your behalf.

3. Be aware of the different types of spousal support. There are two main types of spousal support: compensatory support and dependency support. Compensatory support is paid to compensate the recipient spouse for the economic disadvantages they suffered as a result of the marriage or relationship. Dependency support is paid to help the recipient's spouse meet their reasonable needs if they cannot work or support themselves.

4. Spousal support can be changed or terminated. Suppose there is a change in circumstances, such as income or employment. In that case, either spouse can apply to the court to have the spousal support order changed or terminated.

5. Spousal support can be enforced by the court. If one spouse fails to pay spousal support, the other spouse can apply to the court to enforce the order. The court can order a variety of enforcement measures, such as garnishing the paycheque of the spouse who is not paying support or selling the assets of the spouse who is not paying support.

What happens if you don't have spousal support?

If you do not have spousal support, you may have difficulty meeting your needs after separation or divorce. This is especially true if you depend financially on your spouse and cannot work or support yourself.

Example: A stay-at-home parent who does not have spousal support may struggle to meet their basic needs, such as food and shelter, after separation or divorce.

Steps to getting spousal support

If you are entitled to spousal support, you can take the following steps to get it:

  1. Gather the necessary documentation. This includes your financial information, such as your income, assets, debts, expenses, and your spouse's financial information. You may also want to gather other documentation, such as marriage certificates, birth certificates, and tax returns.
  2. Complete the required forms. The forms you need to complete will vary depending on your circumstances. The forms are on the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General's website.
  3. Negotiate a spousal support agreement with your spouse. This is the best way to get spousal support, as it allows you and your spouse to control the terms of the contract.
  4. Apply to the court for spousal support. If you cannot negotiate a spousal support agreement with your spouse, you can apply to the court for spousal support. The court will consider all relevant factors when determining whether or not to award spousal support and, if so, how much to award.
  5. Serve your spouse with a copy of your application. Your spouse must be served with a copy of your application so that they can respond to it.
  6. Attend a mediation session. Mediation is a process where you and your spouse meet with a neutral third party to try to reach an agreement on spousal support. Mediation is not mandatory, but it is encouraged.
  7. Attend a court hearing. If you and your spouse cannot reach a mediation agreement, you will need to attend a court hearing. The judge will hear your arguments and make a decision about spousal support.

What happens if children are involved?

Suppose children are involved in the separation or divorce. In that case, the court will consider their needs when determining whether or not to award spousal support. The court may order child support, spousal support, or both.

The importance of seeking expert advice

It is crucial to seek expert advice from a lawyer before signing a spousal support agreement or applying to the court for spousal support. Our team at Tabuchi Law specializes in family law and mediation. Our experts can explain the law, help you understand your rights and options, and negotiate a fair and equitable spousal support agreement on your behalf.

How to get the most out of your spousal support agreement

If you are negotiating a spousal support agreement with your spouse, there are a few things you can do to get the most out of it:

  • Be clear about your needs. Before you start negotiating, take some time to think about your financial needs and goals. How much money do you need to meet your basic needs? How much money do you need to maintain your standard of living? How much money do you need to achieve your financial goals, such as saving for retirement or paying for your children's education?
  • Gather all the relevant financial information. The more financial information you have, the better equipped you will be to negotiate a fair spousal support agreement. This includes information about your income, assets, debts, and expenses. You should also gather information about your spouse's financial situation.
  • Be willing to compromise. You will unlikely get everything you want in your spousal support agreement. Be prepared to compromise on some issues to reach a fair agreement for both of you.
  • Have a lawyer review the agreement before you sign it. Once you have reached an agreement with your spouse, have it inspected by a lawyer before you sign it. A lawyer can ensure that the agreement is fair and protects your rights.

Here are some additional tips for negotiating a spousal support agreement:

  • Be organized. Have all of your financial information gathered and organized before you start negotiating. This will help you to present your case effectively.
  • Be honest and transparent. Be honest with your spouse about your financial situation and your needs. Do not try to hide any information or assets.
  • Be respectful. Even if you are feeling angry or hurt, it is essential to be respectful of your spouse during the negotiation process. This will create a positive atmosphere and make it more likely that you will be able to reach an agreement.
  • Be patient. Negotiating a spousal support agreement can take time. Be patient, and don't rush into anything.

If you cannot negotiate a spousal support agreement with your spouse, you can apply to the court for spousal support. The court will consider all relevant factors when determining whether or not to award spousal support and, if so, how much to award.

Here are some of the factors that the court will consider when determining whether or not to award spousal support:

  • The length of the marriage or relationship
  • The income and assets of each spouse
  • The needs of the recipient's spouse
  • The contributions of each spouse to the marriage or relationship
  • The impact of the separation or divorce on each spouse

The court may also consider other factors, such as the age and health of each spouse, the employment prospects of each spouse, and the standard of living that the spouses enjoyed during the marriage or relationship.


Conclusion

Spousal support can be a complex issue, but it is essential to understand your rights and options before signing a spousal support agreement or applying to the court for spousal support. If you are negotiating a spousal support agreement with your spouse, be clear about your needs, gather all the relevant financial information, be willing to compromise, and have a lawyer review the agreement before you sign it. If you cannot negotiate a spousal support agreement with your spouse, you can apply to the court for spousal support. The court will consider all relevant factors when determining whether or not to award spousal support and, if so, how much to award.

Suppose you are considering applying to the court for spousal support. In that case, seeking advice from an experienced law team like ours at Tabuchi Law is crucial. Remember, you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you through this process.


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