Calculating Child and Spousal Support in Ontario

March 25, 2024 Plat Simionati

Calculating Child and Spousal Support in Ontario

Disclaimer: This article aims to provide educational information surrounding child and spousal support. It is not intended to serve as legal advice. Consult with a lawyer and exercise your discretion before taking action based on the information provided in the blog.

Child and spousal support is one of the most complex issues in family law. Calculating how much support you will need to pay can be influenced by several factors. This is especially true when it comes to the amount and duration of spousal support. That is why discussing your support obligations with an experienced Ontario family law firm is crucial. 

This article is designed to give an overview of how your child and spousal support entitlement is calculated. We will discuss how Ontario courts determine how long support should be paid. 

However, family law matters, including your separation or divorce, are unique to each family. Specifics should be discussed with your family lawyer. 

How is child support calculated? 

Basic child support in Ontario is calculated using the Child Support Guidelines (Federal version for when the parties are married, and Ontario version for when they are not).  These guidelines provide a standardized method for determining the amount of child support to be paid, taking into account the paying parent’s income and the number of children requiring support.

In addition to basic child support, parents may share the responsibility for any extraordinary expenses (Section 7 expenses). This will be the topic of a future article. 

Calculating spousal support is generally more complex. First, you must determine whether you are entitled to spousal support.  

Is my spouse entitled to spousal support? 

There are three reasons that a former spouse would be entitled to support under The Divorce Act

  1. Per the terms of a domestic contract, the spouses have a domestic contract (such as a marriage contract) that includes provisions relating to spousal support. 
  2. On a compensatory basis, this primarily applies to spouses who gave up career opportunities to care for the family.  
  3. On a non-compensatory basis, this arises from the economic consequences of the divorce, focusing more on the financial needs of the recipient spouse. 

Unmarried partners may be entitled to spousal support under the Family Law Act.  

Once it is determined that you or your spouse is entitled to spousal support, the next question is how much and for how long. For that, the courts are guided by the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines but they are not statute.  

What are the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines? 

The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines are a valuable tool in Ontario used to calculate the duration and amount of spousal support to be paid. These guidelines were designed to make calculating support more predictable and consistent. Designed to assist in determining an appropriate spousal support amount, the guidelines consider various factors to establish a comprehensive framework for calculation.

It’s crucial to understand that these guidelines do not carry the weight of law; instead, they are used by both the courts and involved parties to calculate possible spousal support amounts. Within this framework, designated low, mid, and high amounts may be considered for payment.

The guidelines present two formulas—one with child support and one without child support. The formula that includes child support places a significant emphasis on the child’s entitlement to support, prioritizing child support over spousal support considerations.

In both cases, the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines consider such factors as the length of the relationship, the age of any children, the financial conditions, and the means of the spouses involved. These factors collectively contribute to determining how much spousal support should be paid and for how long. The length of your relationship means the length of cohabitation, which will include the time spent cohabiting before you were married.

How long is spousal support in Ontario paid? 

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all rule for how long someone has to pay or receive spousal support. It depends on the spouses’ financial conditions, needs, means, and circumstances. So, the support duration varies based on each case’s specifics.  

However, there is “the rule of 65”. This means that if the length of the relationship (in years) and the party’s age at the date of separation is 65 or higher, then support payments are indefinite. For example, if a 55-year-old was in a relationship for over ten years and was entitled to spousal support, spousal support is paid indefinitely. 

How is your support order enforced? 

As discussed in a previous article, the Family Responsibility Office will automatically become involved if a spousal support order is issued.  You can pay spousal support to the Family Responsibility Office, which will be distributed to your former partner. If you receive spousal support payments, the Family Responsibility Office will help enforce your order for spousal support. The FRO cannot change the amount of support or calculate spousal support – it simply enforces the order or agreement that has been filed.  

Plat Simionati LLP: Your Source for Trustworthy Family Law Advice 

It is clear that this is a multifaceted and often challenging aspect. While the Ontario Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines are pivotal in shaping spousal support arrangements, it is much more complicated than inputting figures into a spousal support calculator. 

At Plat Simionati LLP, our experienced lawyers are well-versed in the complexities of child or spousal support, ensuring that our clients are equipped with the knowledge and support needed to navigate this often challenging process.

At Plat Simionati LLP, we only practice family law and do it well. We have a proven track record of guiding clients through the complexities of spousal support, ensuring that their rights are protected and that fair and equitable outcomes are achieved. 

Whether representing you in court or negotiating your support obligations, we will represent your interest with expertise, dedication, and a commitment to securing the support you deserve. Contact our team today!