When Does Spousal Support End?

Richmond Tymchuk Family Law

When Does Spousal Support End?

Richmond Tymchuk Family Law

Who can get spousal support? 

Alberta’s laws in relation to spousal support apply to married couples and common-law couples. When a couple separates, there are a range of financial arrangements to be decided. Understanding how, when and for how long spousal support is payable can be complicated. 


What are the entitlements to spousal support?

If you or your spouse earn more income than the other, it is likely one of you will have to provide some amount of spousal support going forward when the relationship ends. 

In order for a former spouse to receive Spousal Support, they must prove entitlement to this support. The Supreme Court of Canada has defined these possible entitlements to Spousal Support:

  • Contractual Support: When you have an agreement (i.e. a prenuptial) that states that one spouse is to receive support
  • Compensatory Support: When one spouse has sacrificed a career, education, or ability to earn income due to their role in the marriage
  • Non-compensatory Support: When one spouse experiences a significant economic hardship as a result of the end of the marriage

Read more about your financial rights during a separation. In this article, we’ll be talking about spousal support from both points of view - from the payee (person receiving the support) and payor (the person paying the support). 

When can spousal support come to an end? 

Spousal support might end when: 


1. The payor has lost their job, or has a significant decrease in income

The court will revisit the arrangement to see what is fair in the new circumstances. We wrote a comprehensive post about how an economic downturn can affect spousal support.


2. There’s been a change in the financial circumstance of the payee

If the recipient gets a promotion with a pay rise, this could end the spousal support arrangement. 

3. The payee or payor retires

If you retire and start receiving a pension, then the court may change or end the spousal support. If the payor retires, this could also trigger a review of spousal support as their income circumstances change. 


4. The payor or payee has died

If there’s no specific agreement or court order, then the support obligation will end on the death of the payor. This is why it’s important to ensure that your agreements are made in writing, or via court order. 

5. After a certain period of time, dependant on how long the relationship was

As a ballpark, if you have no children together, the period that support will be payable will range from six months to one year for every year you were in a relationship. For example, in a relationship of 8 years duration, spousal support may be payable for between 4 to 8 years after the relationship ends. 

If there are children of the relationship, spousal support will be payable in accordance with the calculation above OR when the children finish high school - whichever is longer. 

6. When the payee gets remarried or enters into a new relationship

Remarriage or cohabitation of the payee may affect the spousal support. This will depend on the spousal support order, or separation agreement.


How do I apply for spousal support? 

Speak to Richmond Tymchuk Family Law LLP about your situation. We’re here to help you navigate this complex process. 


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