Spousal Support

Spousal Support Objectives

Spousal support is a meant to compensate a former spouse for missed economic opportunities that are a result of the relationship. The objectives of spousal support are set out in section 15.2 of the Divorce Act for married spouses and section 161 of the Family Law Act for unmarried spouses: (a) to recognize any economic advantages or disadvantages to the spouses arising from the relationship between the spouses or the breakdown of that relationship; (b) to apportion between the spouses any financial consequences arising from the care of their child, beyond the duty to provide support for the child; (c) to relieve any economic hardship of the spouses arising from the breakdown of the relationship between the spouses; and (d) as far as practicable, to promote the economic self-sufficiency of each spouse within a reasonable period of time.

Spousal Support Calculations

The amount and duration of spousal support payments are set out in section 162 of the Family Law Act and are determined by considering the conditions, means, and needs of each spouse, in addition to the length of time the spouses lived together and the functions performed by each spouse during the period they lived together, such as housekeeping or raising children. Child support obligations take priority over spousal support obligations, pursuant to section 15.3 of the Divorce Act and section 173 of the Family Law Act.

The calculation for spousal support may involve a complex formula set out by The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines. For a ballpark starting point, you may reference the following calculator:


Caution – the numbers provided are from an external source, are not exact, and may vary significantly due to some exceptions and circumstances of each case.

Spousal Support Agreements

Spousal support agreements are a factor taken into account by a court pursuant to section 15.2(4)(c) of the Divorce Act and sections 162(c) and 163 of the Family Law Act. Agreements can determine whether spousal support will or will not be paid. Generally, spousal support agreements that are signed by both parties, witnessed, and filed in court operate as though they are court orders.

Spousal support agreements can be changed or set aside in some circumstances. Along with factors laid out in section 164 of the Family Law Act, these circumstances may include: where one party failed to disclose, lied or hid financial information that led the other party into the agreement; where one party took improper advantage of the other’s vulnerability, including the other’s ignorance, need or distress; where one party did not have the understanding or mental capacity to enter the agreement; where one party forced the other into the agreement by threat; or where the agreement is fundamentally unfair. A court may consider the length of time that has passed since the agreement was made; any changes, since the agreement was made, in the condition, means, needs or other circumstances of a spouse; the intention of the spouses, in making the agreement, to achieve certainty; the degree to which the spouses relied on the terms of the agreement; and the degree to which the agreement meets the spousal support objectives set out in section 161 of the Family Law Act.


Laws are subject to change. This website’s contents are not intended as legal advice and should not be relied upon. You should consult a lawyer before applying any law to any case or factual circumstances.