March 3rd, 2021
Spousal support refers to the legal obligation of one spouse to financially support the other spouse after the relationship comes to an end. Other common names for spousal support includes spouse support, alimony, partner support, palimony and maintenance.
In making a spousal /partner support order, the Court is required to take into consideration the “condition, means, needs and other circumstances” of each party and of any child of the marriage for whom support is sought, including:
the length of time the parties cohabited;
the functions performed by the parties during cohabitation;
any order, agreement or arrangement relating to support of the parties or children.
If you have been ordered to pay spouse support, you must continue to pay until:
1. the support order is changed by the Court;
2. you and your former spouse agree to change the support agreement; or
3. the conditions that have been set out in the support agreement to terminate payments have been met.
An order for spousal support may be granted for a specific period of time, or it may last indefinitely. In Alberta, several factors determine how long spousal support must be paid. The longer the marriage, relationship or cohabitation was between the parties, the longer the spousal support order will typically be. The court will take into consideration factors such as the health and age of each spouse, the living standards before and after separation, child-care requirements, ability to re-enter the workforce, and others. In addition, the Court will consider whether there are children involved. In general, when no children are involved, the Courts will grant support for a maximum of one year for each year the parties lived together. When children are involved, the Courts will grant support for a maximum of one year for each year the parties lived together or until the children finish high school – whichever amount is higher.
Once determined, the length of required spousal support payments can be changed when circumstances justify a change. A Court may order spousal support to end when you remarry or if you start receiving other financial benefits such as the Canada Pension Plan. Other factors that determine when spousal support will end include whether the spouse that has been ordered to pay has lost their job and no longer has the financial means necessary.