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Unlike child support, spousal support can be confusing, uncertain, and largely based on the discretion of judges. While the divorce act provides guidance in what factors are to be used in determining spousal support, the courts, and in particular the Supreme Court of Canada have made considerable and sometimes confusing rulings that the courts look to. Essentially, three things need to be agreed upon by the parties, or ruled on by a Justice of the Court:
Is the spouse entitled to Spousal Support?
If yes, how much?
How long shall it be payable for?
The courts have determined there are three theories of spousal support:
Self-sufficiency – A spouse should be encouraged to become self-sufficient as quickly as possible and cut the ties from the former spouse.
Compensatory – Where one spouse has surrendered a career in the workplace because of the marriage.
Needs/Means Based – This creates balance in the standard of living in the separated/divorced couple by redistributing income from the spouse who has greater resources to the spouse with less resources.
Factors that the court considers when ruling on spousal support include:
Length of the marriage.
Ages of the parties.
Standard of living while married.
Age of the children and amount of support being paid.
Current income and future ability to generate income.
Role of each spouse in the marriage.
Resources of the parties.
Post-separation financial situation and budgets.