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Wednesday’s Video Clip: Top 5 questions about spousal support in Ontario, Canada



Top 5 questions about spousal support in Ontario, Canada

In this video Russell reviews some of the more common questions about spousal support in Ontario, including:

1) What is spousal support?

Spousal support – which is sometimes called “alimony” – is money paid from one spouse to the other after the dissolution of the relationship. The obligation to pay spousal support is a legal one, and may arise either from a marriage, or from a common-law relationship.

2) What is the legal basis for obtaining spousal support?

The obligation for one spouse to pay spousal support to the other does not arise automatically from the fact that the parties had a relationship together (whether formally married or common law). Rather, the spouse who is claiming spousal support must prove an entitlement to it.

A court may order spousal support, and will set an amount and duration based on various factors that exist between the parties. The jurisdiction for a court to award spousal support comes from either the federal Divorce Act (as part of a divorce order), or from the Ontario Family Law Act.

3) What factors dictate the duration and amount of spousal support?

The determination of how much support a spouse should receive, and for how long, is a complex equation. In making a spousal support order courts consider several factors, including:

• the length of the entire relationship (including time living together before marriage);

• the financial circumstances of each spouse, both during the relationship and
after separation;

• the functions performed by each spouse during the relationship;

• the financial repercussions or detrimental financial effect on one or both spouses of caring for each other or for any children of the relationship; and

• each spouse’s ability to support him or herself.

In some cases one spouse may have suffered a financial loss or disadvantage as result of joint career and lifestyle decisions made during the marriage or relationship (for example the decision to move the family so that a spouse can take a new job, or that the mother will give up her career to stay home and raise the children). A disadvantaged spouse will be entitled to support to compensate him or her for that setback.

There may also be a limit on the duration of the support that one spouse receives from the other, as means of encouraging the recipient spouse to achieve post-separation financial independence as quickly as possible. Alternatively, the order may contain a built-in review mechanism.

Note that there are certain tax consequences relating to spousal support – both from the payor’s and the recipient’s perspective. In short – and provided it is paid pursuant to either a written separation agreement or a court order – it is considered “taxable income” in the hands of the spouse who receives it, and is deductible from the taxable income of the spouse who pays it. These tax ramifications are taken into account when determining the amount of support.

4) How does the spouse’s behaviour affect spousal support entitlement?

Generally speaking, the entitlement to spousal support is not dependent on the spouse’s pre- or post-separation behaviour, morality, or ethical conduct. In other words, a spouse who is otherwise entitled to spousal support after the dissolution of a marriage will not become disentitled because he or she was violent, or because it is later discovered that he or she had an extra-marital affair during the marriage.
Having said that, a court’s determination of the amount and duration of spousal support will hinge upon each party providing forthright, comprehensive financial disclosure to each other. If in making the determination the court feels that one spouse has withheld financial information (e.g. has failed to disclose a source of significant income), the court may impute income to the spouse and award the other spouse his or her support accordingly.

5) What happens if there is a change in circumstances?

As indicated above, the notion of one spouse receiving spousal support from the other is rooted in several concepts and principles, including:

1) the financial disadvantage or dependence that relationship gave rise to must be redressed post-separation; and

2) the ability of the paying spouse to fund the spousal support award must be taken into account.

The amount or duration of spousal support may have to be adjusted if there is significant change in the financial circumstances of either party. This change must be significant, and must not have been foreseen when the separation agreement or the court-ordered spousal support award was made.

We hope you have found this video helpful. If you require further information about spousal support please give us a call or visit our website at

Wednesday’s Video Clip: Finding A Lawyer

Wednesday’s Video Clip: Finding A Lawyer

In this video Kiley talks about the various ways people can find a lawyer to help them, including:

Community Legal Clinics

Community legal clinics provide legal services to low-income people in areas such as housing, employment insurance, income support, immigration, human rights, and workers’ compensation. Some clinics also provide assistance with wills, powers of attorney, and education law. To find the community legal clinic nearest you, visit the Legal Aid Ontario web site or call Legal Aid Ontario.

Law Office of Russell I Alexander, Family Lawyers

This law firm focuses exclusively on family law.  Russell I Alexander offers pre-separation legal advice and helps clients who are going through a separation and/or a divorce. This office assists clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. Their lawyers negotiate settlements for their clients, and if a fair and reasonable settlement cannot be achieved they prepare and argue motions and trials.
(905) 655-6335.

Law Society of Upper Canada

Offers information on finding and working with a lawyer, web site:

Legal Advice for Victims of Domestic Violence

Legal Aid Ontario can provide authorization for a two-hour consultation with a family law lawyer through a form called “Advice Lawyer Family Violence Authorization”.

Community legal clinics, student legal aid societies, and women’s shelters should have these forms to give to abused women. Contact the women’s shelter in your community or call Legal Aid Ontario for the phone number and location of the legal clinic or student legal aid society nearest you.

Legal Aid Ontario

1-800-668-8258 (bilingual)

Office of the Children’s Lawyer

Provides court-appointed legal representation for children up to 18 years of age, call:
416-314-8000 (bilingual – accepts collect calls)

Legal and Family Resources

Advocacy Centre for the Elderly

Provides legal advice and information to low-income seniors 60 years of age and older on issues such as elder abuse, home care, nursing homes and homes for the aged, and powers of attorney; phone and web site:

ARCH Disability Law Centre

Provides legal information to people with disabilities, and some representation in precedent-setting cases involving disability issues. ARCH has an accessible library of materials on disability-related issues that is open to the public; phone and web site:

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Provides support, treatment, and education for people with mental health and addiction problems and their families. Publications on youth and addiction, and information on drug and alcohol policies in Ontario schools are available through their web site:
1-800-463-6273 (bilingual)

CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)

Provides clear language legal education and information materials for low-income and disadvantaged people in Ontario. CLEO’s materials address issues in many areas of law, including family, domestic violence, social assistance, housing, and immigration and refugee law. Most materials are also available in French. All print publications are free and can be viewed online.

416-408-4420 (accepts collect calls)


An online collection of public legal education resources for community workers.

Wednesday’s Video Clip: How to Get More Information About Family Law

Wednesday’s Video Clip:  How to Get More Information About Family Law

In this law video Russell Alexander review the different ways you can get more information about family law.

There are many professional people, organizations and other sources that can help you or provide information about family law issues, including:

1. An information centre specializing in family justice

2. A parent education course for separating parents

3. Duty counsel at a legal aid office

4. A community legal clinic

5. A university law school with a student-run legal information service

6. A law society or bar association referral service for a lawyer

7. A divorce support or self-help group

8. Relevant library books and videos

9. The yellow pages, white pages or blue pages in your telephone book have listings for
many of these resources, and

10. A librarian at your public library may also be able to help you

The Difference Between Separation and Divorce

A separation occurs when one or both spouses decide to live apart with the intention of not living together again. Once you are separated, you may need to discuss custody, access and child support with your spouse. You may also need to work out issues dealing with spousal support and property. You can resolve these issues in different ways:

• You can negotiate a separation agreement. A separation agreement is a legal document signed by both spouses which details the arrangements on which you have agreed. In some jurisdictions, independent legal advice is required to make the document legally binding.

• You can make an application to the court to set up custody, access, support and property arrangements under the provincial or territorial laws that apply to you.

• You can come to an informal agreement with your spouse. However, if one party decides not to honour the agreement, you will have no legal protection.

To legally end your marriage, you need a divorce, which is an order signed by a judge under the federal law called the Divorce Act.



Wednesday’s Video Clip: Justice Brownstone & Family Matters TV

This a promotional video clip of Family Matters, a TV program with a focus on a multiplicty of issues affecting contemporary North American life, with a particular emphasis on the interplay between relationships and the justice system: internet dating, addictions, prenups, mental health, adoption, surrogate parenting, same-sex relationships, multicultural relationships, parenting after separation and divorce, mediation, child neglect and abuse, child and spousal support – and this is just the tip of the iceberg!

Hosted by an actual sitting Ontario family court judge, this exciting show is the first of its kind anywhere. Justice Brownstone provides educational episodes in an informative, compelling and entertaining talk show.



Wednesday’s Video Clip: Ontario Wills & Estates, What Is A Power Of Attorney



In Ontario, a Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the right to act on your behalf.
In this video Rita, a Law Clerk with Russell Alexander Family Lawyers,   discusses the importance of a Power of Attorney and what options and decisions you should consider when deciding who should be your power of attorney.