June 29, 2020 | Divorce

How to get spousal support and could it ever end?

You are divorced from your ex-spouse and have happily started a new chapter in your life. Your unhappy marriage is a thing of the past. You have now met an incredible new partner that you want to spend the rest of your life with. You might question if you get re-married, will this affect the spousal support you were receiving from your divorce? Do you have to continue to pay your ex-spouse? The short answer is : re-marriage does not affect spousal support orders in Quebec (for the payor), you can still be bound by your spousal support obligations to your ex-spouse, unless you can prove significant hardship.

In Quebec, spousal support (often referred to as alimony) is money one spouse pays the other to help meet their financial needs during the divorce proceedings and after the divorce. Spousal support is determined based on the dependency of one of the spouses on the other during marriage. In order to be entitled to spousal support, you need to prove the following three things: that there was an economic dependency during the marriage, that there was an enrichment and impoverishment of the parties, and that the payor has the capacity to pay the support requested.

Read More: Do I have to split my Quebec pension plan?

The situation can be different however if it is the recipient who remarries; however, these decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. The recipient’s remarriage does not mean automatic termination of spousal support but the support received can be reduced or suspended, if it is proven that you no longer have a monthly deficit and that there has been a significant change of circumstance to merit a modification of the divorce judgement. A lot depends upon the standard of living in the recipient’s new household as well as the length of the first marriage and the age of the recipient. For example, if there was a short first marriage where the recipient spouse was younger and the support was for transitional purposes, remarriage by the recipient may result in the termination of spousal support.

Two ways to obtain a spousal support:

  1. The spouses either agree that they will pay a spousal support and the amount;

  2. Dependant spouse makes the request to the court in their Application for Divorce. This can be requested on an urgent basis, if you can prove urgency.

The judge’s decision with respect to support payments must fulfill the following criteria:

  • Consider the financial advantages and disadvantages the marriage or divorce caused each spouse;

  • Divide the financial consequences of raising the children between the spouses;

  • Limit the financial difficulties the divorce causes to the spouses;

  • Encourage each spouse to be financially independent within a reasonable time.

Spousal Support can be made either by monthly payments or a lump-sum payment (one payment of a larger amount – this is a final amount that is not later adjusted).

Support payments can be made for different lengths of time depending on the circumstances, for example a fixed amount and fixed duration or a fixed amount with no termination date established.

However, it is important to note that the laws governing spousal support is to help the recipient get back on their feet over a reasonable period of time, given the circumstances. However, spousal support is treated case by case. For example if you have been married for 20 years, there is a rule that can be applied, after 20 years of marriage, spousal support is for life.  

Do not hesitate to reach out to our spousal support lawyer in Montreal for further questions on this topic!