The decision to separate or divorce can be one of the hardest choices in your life. It’s a time filled with emotional upheaval, significant changes and tough decisions. When separating, there are many issues you may need to consider: i.e. parenting and decision-making, parenting schedules, child support, property division. You may also need to understand and navigate spousal support and the rights to a matrimonial home. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed, uncertain or lost as you navigate these areas. As we delve into the specifics of spousal support and matrimonial homes, remember that it’s okay to ask questions of your Vaughan divorce lawyers and take the time you need to make informed decisions.

In Ontario, the laws surrounding these issues are designed to ensure fairness and equity between parties. Whether you’re considering separation, are in the midst of divorce proceedings or are simply seeking knowledge, our divorce lawyers in Vaughan will present these topics transparently to help your decision-making process be less intimidating.

Understanding Spousal Support

Spousal Support, often referred to as alimony or maintenance, is financial assistance paid by one spouse to the other following a separation or divorce. It is separate from child support, and its purpose is to alleviate any unfair economic effects of a relationship/marriage and/or its breakdown. It does so by helping the lower-income spouse to become financially independent.

Spousal support is not automatic though. In order to claim spousal support, you must establish an entitlement to it. An entitlement to spousal support can be demonstrated in one of several ways: you had responsibilities during the relationship that impacted your ability to build your career or grow your income (i.e. raising children or helping your spouse build their career), the breakdown of the relationship is financially disadvantageous to you (i.e. you have become accustomed to a certain type of lifestyle due to the other party’s income and/or earning capacity), or you have a legal agreement or contract that states that you are to receive spousal support if your relationship ends. Both married and common-law partners may be entitled to spousal support, but the specific criteria and entitlements may differ depending on individual circumstances.

Once you are able to establish an entitlement to spousal support, the quantum and duration of the support must be determined. When figuring out how much spousal support should be paid, and/or for how long, several factors are considered,, including the length of the marriage, roles during the relationshipeach spouse’s current income and future earning capacity, the parties’ ages at the end of the relationship, the parties’ health, etc. 

Spousal support can be interim, long-term or in the form of a lump-sum payment. Interim support helps during the legal process, while long-term support is for after the divorce and lump-sum payments are a one-time settlement. There are also different tax implications to consider when it comes to periodic spousal support payments versus a lump-sum payment of spousal support. 

Factors such as the recipient’s needs and the payer’s ability to pay, along with directions provided by the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines, play a crucial role in this determination. 

The terms of spousal support can also be modified in cases of significant changes in financial circumstances, like a change in employment status or the health of either party. This change requires judicial intervention.

Your divorce lawyer in Vaughan will analyze your situation and guide you in the calculations for spousal support.

The Matrimonial Home

Generally, the matrimonial home is the residence in which a married couple ordinarily resided at the time of separation. Under Ontario law, this property must be in the province and treated uniquely during the property division. Spouses have equal rights to stay in the matrimonial home upon separation, and the date of separation value is typically shared equally, regardless of who is on the title.

In limited circumstances, a family may have more than one matrimonial home (i.e. a family cottage or vacation home that the family visits or resides in regularly); however this can be complicated and so it is best to consult with your Vaughan divorce lawyer on this issue.

Oftentimes – and for many families – the matrimonial home represents one of the most financially and/or emotionally significant assets. Therefore careful legal consideration is required to determine who stays in the matrimonial home (temporarily and long term), how its value is determined and then divided, and/or whether it should be sold. Relevant factors include the best interests of any children, financial implications and each partner’s housing needs.

Understanding your rights and obligations is the first step toward protecting your interests. It is best to consult your Vaughan divorce lawyer when making these decisions.

Reliable Divorce Lawyers in Vaughan

Understanding spousal support and the complexities surrounding the matrimonial home in Ontario can seem overwhelming. However, navigating these issues can be significantly more manageable with the right information and legal guidance. The experienced divorce lawyers at GDH Family Law provide strategic guidance tailored to your specific circumstances, from negotiating spousal support to dealing with the matrimonial home. We provide the support and advice you need to make informed decisions during these challenging times.

Complete our contact form or call 416-535-6944 to start a conversation with one of our skilled Vaughan divorce lawyers.