If you’re in a long term relationship where you haven’t been living together, but your finances have become entwined, there’s a good chance you’ll need spousal support if the relationship breaks down. Spousal support is financial support given to a less financially stable partner by the other partner in order to help them while they’re going through the financially difficult period of rebuilding a separate life. It can be tricky to determine if a person qualifies for spousal support as it depends on a number of factors, such as the length of the relationship, the income of the parties, and whether or not a spouse has children from a previous marriage. However, regardless of whether or not you live together, you can apply to ask the court for an order for spousal support. This article gives you all the details you need to know about spousal support and understanding how much it may amount to.

What is spousal support?

There are a lot of questions swirling around the topic of spousal support. So, in this blog post, we will try to shed some light on the subject and answer some of the most commonly asked questions. First of all, what is spousal support? Spousal support is money paid by one spouse to the other in order to financially support them during and after a marriage or relationship breakdown, to assist with them rebuilding their separate lives.

Spousal support is paid by one spouse to financially support the other spouse after separation, under a (usually written) agreement between them, or a court order.

The purpose of spousal support is to help meet the on-going financial needs of a financially dependent spouse for a defined period of time.

The objectives of spousal support are to:

  • Reduce financial hardship a spouse may face as a result of the divorce or separation
  • Share the financial consequences arising from caring for any children
  • Encourage each spouse to become financially self-sufficient within a reasonable period of time

If the relationship was long term and financial dependence had become the norm despite the couple maintaining two households, the court may award spousal support. Financial dependence can come in different forms, including payments of bills, rent, and groceries. If you don’t live with your spouse, spousal support may still be available to you under specific circumstances. However, it’s important to speak with an attorney about your situation if you’re considering asking for spousal support. There are a lot of legal factors regarding the decision of whether spousal support is appropriate, and the potential for it to be granted. It’s essential to have an expert on your side. So, don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns about spousal support.

In BC, spousal support is most commonly financial assistance given to a spouse who had been cohabiting with their partner for at least two years prior to the breakdown of the relationship, and meets specific legal requirements. This financial assistance can help cover the costs of living while the spouse undergoes the difficult time of getting back on their feet, training for or upgrading their career such that they can maintain their living situation without the additional support of a spouse.

Spousal Support Considerations

The involvement of children may increase the likelihood of the court granting an order for spousal support. The spousal support objectives recognize that child care responsibilities can affect a parent’s ability to support himself or herself. For example, child care responsibilities may prevent one parent from working full-time or building a career. Spousal support could also compensate a spouse who gave up opportunities to help the other spouse pursue their own opportunities or career. Or spousal support may be needed to limit the economic hardship caused by the separation or to help a spouse as they become financially independent after separation.

When does your partner qualify for spousal support?

When it comes to spousal support, if you’re married or in a common-law relationship and your partner meets the legal definition of “spouse,” they are eligible for spousal support. This means that your partner is considered to be your spouse for the purposes of matrimonial support law, even if you’re not currently living together and sometimes even if you have never lived together. There are a few factors that determine if your partner qualifies for spousal support, beyond whether you have been living together as a couple for at least 2 years in BC. Though this is commonly considered a marriage, where it doesn’t matter if you’re civil or religious, you don’t need to be currently living with your spouse to qualify. There are financial situations where your partner may be considered a spouse for support purposes, even if you live apart most of the time.

Spousal support payments are typically based on a number of factors, including the income of both spouses and how long the couple has been married or in a common-law relationship. Payments can also vary depending on whether your partner is providing financial support to you during the relationship. If you’re asking for spousal support, make sure you have documentation of all support received during the relationship towards your financial struggles – this will help prove that you meet the legal requirements for spousal support.

Surrey Family Law

How much does spousal support amount to?

Spousal support is a financial obligation that one spouse may be required to pay to the other spouse in the event of separation or divorce. Generally speaking, spousal support is decided with reference to federal guidelines based on two formulas which either include or exclude the existence of children, and are based on the income of each party. These guidelines are not based around the living expenses of each party, and essentially ignore their respective budgets. If income is difficult to determine, as in the case of underemployment or self-employment, a case may be brought to impute income for the purpose of calculating support. This figure- particularly with regard to the calculations without children- can vary based on a number of factors, like the length of the marriage and the standard of living that was enjoyed during the marriage.

When children are involved, even children from a previous relationship, they may be eligible for child support from you in addition to (or instead of) spousal support. For marriages with dependent children, length of marriage is not the most important determinant of support outcomes. When compared to post-separation child-care responsibilities, the length of the relationship carries less weight and the focus shifts toward support of the children. In this case, calculation guidelines would be based on the formula which considers the necessity of child support as well, and would therefor differ somewhat.

Child support must be calculated first and given priority over spousal support. As well, the differential tax treatment of child and spousal support must be taken into account, complicating the calculations. The with child support formula thus works with computer software calculations of net disposable incomes

Under the basic with child support formula:

  • Spousal support is an amount that will leave the recipient spouse with between 40 and 46 percent of the spouses’ net incomes after child support has been taken out.

So, whether you’re living together or not, make sure to speak to an attorney about your legal rights and obligations in the event of a divorce.

In short, the amount of spousal support awarded will depend on a number of factors, such as the length of the marriage, the income, and the assets of each spouse and any children involved.

Amount and duration

The amount and duration of spousal support is determined after considering the circumstances of each spouse, including:

  • Your financial situation and the financial situation of your former spouse
  • How long your relationship lasted
  • The roles and functions of each spouse during the relationship, and
  • What the person who is asking for spousal support needs in order to become self-sufficient, such as extra training or education

Based on this information, it may be determined that:

  • No spousal support is needed, or
  • Spousal support should be paid in one lump sum, or in regular payments over a certain number of months or years

It’s important to note that in making a decision about spousal support, a judge will not look at any other aspects of your marriage, such as who left the relationship or the fact that one of you had an affair. Many hours of court time – as well as lawyers’ fees – are wasted by needlessly attempting to introduce blame into the equation.

Can you get spousal support if you don’t live together?

Yes, spousal support can be awarded even if the spouses do not live together. However, the court will usually only award support if there is a legal basis for doing so, such as when the parties were long term relationship and presented themselves to friends and family as a couple, despite maintenance of separate households.

Spousal support is a financial agreement between spouses in which one spouse agrees to financially support the other spouse as a result of divorce, or legal separation. The amount and duration of spousal support can vary greatly depending on each case. Generally, spousal support payments are made monthly and may last for as long as the spouse receiving support needs it depending on age and the length of the relationship. Sometimes, support may be given as a lump sum, as in the case of unequal asset division. Spousal support payments may be increased, reduced or ended altogether if the spouse receiving support demonstrates a significant change in financial circumstances, or a material change in circumstance arises.

If you are considering filing for divorce or legal separation, it is important to speak with an attorney about your specific case and possibly spousal support arrangements.

Spousal Support

How do you apply for spousal support?

When spouses separate or divorce, spousal support can help maintain a level of financial stability. This support can come in the form of financial assistance, such as paying the bills or covering the costs of living. There are two ways to obtain spousal support – through legal negotiation and a court order or by agreement between the spouses. In the latter case, it is imperative for both parties to keep meticulous records. The receiving spouse will want to establish precedent in case there’s need to defend the existing agreement, while the payor will usually want to establish proof of adherence to the agreement. The amount of spousal support awarded will vary based on a number of factors, including the income and assets of both parties. If you don’t live together anymore but still have a relationship, you may be able to get spousal support from your ex-spouse without going through divorce proceedings. So, if you’re financially unstable and your ex spouse doesn’t support you financially, be sure to speak to a lawyer or financial advisor to explore your options.

Spousal support is a financial assistance given to a spouse who is unable to support themselves due to the cessation of their marriage or legal partnership. Support may be in the form of periodic payments, lump-sum payments, or both.


Spousal support can sometimes be available to spouses who did not live together and can amount to a fair amount of financial assistance. If you have any questions or concerns about spousal support, do not hesitate to reach out to us via the “contact us” section below.

At Fleetwood Family Law, we understand the importance of legal support and guidance during difficult times. Contact us today for a consultation about your spousal support situation.