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How much spousal support must be paid?

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How much spousal support must be paid?
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How much spousal support must be paid?
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Reviewed: 
November 30, 2017
Answer

If you or your partner are entitled to spousal support, the amount of support and how long it is paid depend on factors 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

And, the law expects the partner receiving support to try to support themselves as soon as possible after separation. This is sometimes called the "duty to become self-sufficient".

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.

The SSAGs use 2 different formulas. One is for partners who have no children together. The other is for partners who have children together.

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 and your partner can try to reach an agreement about spousal support. If you can’t agree, you can get help from a family law professional or go to court and ask a judge to decide.

You can talk to a lawyer who can help you understand what the law says about spousal support. 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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