Almost everyone has heard the term ‘spousal support,’ but what really is it? And how do you know if you are eligible for it? 

Below is a brief breakdown of spousal support and some key factors that can help you understand what spousal support consists of.

What is a ‘spouse’?

You and your partner are considered “spouses” if you are legally married, or in a common-law relationship. Legally, a common-law relationship means that you and your partner have cohabited, or lived together as a couple, for a minimum of three years or were in a relationship of some permeance for any length of time and had a child together.

To determine if spousal support applies, the courts will look at several factors. Some of these factors include:

– Did one partner financially support another?

– Did you combine your finances?

– Was it a conjugal relationship?

– Would family and friends consider you to be a couple?

– Did you act as a parent to each other’s children?

What is spousal support?

When two people get a divorce, or separate, either party may be entitled to spousal support. Spousal support applies to partners who are within the legal definition of common law spouse or married – this includes same-sex partners. 

Spousal support is a monetary value that reflects the difference of income between two parties. Usually, this is reflected when one party earns more than another. The person who gets support is called the support recipient and the person who pays the spousal support is called the payor. 

Why am I required to pay spousal support?

The purpose of spousal support is to recognize each partner’s contribution to the relationship. Spousal support can help relieve financial hardship and make things equal for a partner who lost out financially during the course of the relationship. An example of this is a stay at home parent, one parent earned an income, and the other took care of the household and children. 

How do I apply for spousal support?

There is no automatic receivership for spousal support, it must be arranged or applied for. A legal expert can address your personal situation and advise you if you would be entitled to it. 

Ideally, two separating partners will come to an arrangement about spousal support on their own. If an agreed arrangement is not possible, a family law professional can help both parties come to an agreement or provide advise as to how to come to an arrangement.