3. Check the guidelines for exceptions

How much spousal support must be paid?
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3. Check the guidelines for exceptions

The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAGs) list some exceptions. These are situations where the guidelines may not apply or where the court may order a different amount of support than what the guidelines day.

Examples where the court may order the support payor to pay less:

  • The support payor makes less than $20,000 and paying spousal support would push them into poverty.
  • The support payor is responsible for other family debt. For example, they are paying the mortgage until the property can be divided.
  • The support payor is responsible for paying other large family debts until it can be divided.
  • The support payor is paying child support for children from another relationship. Or, they are paying spousal support to another former partner.
  • The support payor doesn’t have custody of their young child and was in a short relationship, but plays a significant role in raising the child. The support payor would not be able to meet the demands of parenting if they also had to pay spousal support.
  • The support payor cannot deduct spousal support from their income for tax purposes because they receive disability payments, workers’ compensation, or income from an overseas job.

Examples where the court may order the support payor to pay more:

  • The support recipient has an illness or disability.
  • The support recipient is caring for their child, who has special needs.
  • The marriage was short and there were no children, but the support recipient did not continue with their career to help the support payor build theirs.
  • Child support takes priority over spousal support. This means if the support payor doesn't make enough money to pay both, child support must be paid first. So, if the support payor is paying less spousal support than the guidelines call for, they may have to pay it for longer.

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Department of Justice Canada
Reviewed: November 30, 2017

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