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Can I get spousal support?

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Can I get spousal support?
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Can I get spousal support?
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Reviewed: 
November 30, 2017
Answer

When you and your partner separate or divorce, you may be entitled to get spousal support if your partner's income is higher than yours. You're called the support recipient and your partner is called the support payor.

Spousal support is not automatic. You can only get it if you're entitled to it. For example, if:

  • You are leaving the relationship in a worse financial position than your partner.
  • You did not continue with your career because you took care of the home and children, which allowed your partner to build their career.
  • You and your partner signed a contract that says you will get spousal support if your relationship ends.

The amount of support and how long it is paid depend on things like:

  • how long you and your partner lived together
  • if you have children together and who has been caring for them
  • each partner's income
  • each partner's age
  • the roles each partner had during the marriage, for example if you stayed home to look after the children

Courts use the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAGs) to help them decide how much spousal support should be paid and for how long. These are only guidelines, not laws.

You need special software to calculate spousal support using the SSAGs. This free online calculator can give you a rough idea but it only does simple calculations, and it only takes employment income into account.

You can talk to a lawyer to help you understand what the law says about spousal support and if you're entitled to it. If you can't afford to hire a lawyer for your whole case, some lawyers provide "unbundled" or "limited scope" services. This means you pay them to help you with part of your case.

If you can't afford to hire a lawyer at all, you may be able to find legal help in other places.

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