Support payments for a former spouse

Following a legal separation, a divorce or the dissolution of a civil union, one former spouse may be required to pay support to the other former spouse.

How is the amount of support paid to a former spouse calculated?

Before ordering the payment of support to one of the former spouses and specifying the amount of support payable, the judge takes into account the resources, needs and general situation of both spouses.

The judge may also consider:

  • the length of time the former spouses lived together;
  • the duties performed by each spouse while they were together;
  • the degree to which each spouse is financially independent;
  • any orders, agreements or other arrangements for support that are already in place for a former spouse or dependent children.

In general, support for a former spouse is considered to be support to help a person in need organize his or her life. Obviously, each case is different.

Applying for spousal support

Spousal support is not granted automatically. The former spouse concerned must apply to the court to obtain support, presenting a statement of his or her financial situation and demonstrating his or her needs.

The spouse who may be required to pay support must also provide evidence of his or her means.

Can the spouses agree on the amount of support paid?

When the spouses separate amicably, they can agree on an amount of support and include it in the draft agreement they file with the judge.

What happens after a judge grants support?

After granting support, the judge decides on the amount to be paid. The amount is then collected via the  Revenu Québec support payment collection program and indexed each year, except if the judge decides otherwise. In exceptional circumstances, the periodic payment of support may be replaced by the payment of a single lump sum. The judge may also order the payment of support for a specified period, and revise the amount of support paid if needed.

Survival of the obligation to provide support

When a person paying support dies, the ex-spouse or the children for whom the support was paid may claim a financial contribution from the succession to meet their needs.

They must meet certain conditions and apply within six months of the death. The financial contribution will be determined using various factors, including the needs and resources of the beneficiary and the assets of the succession.

A former spouse or a child of the deceased who was entitled to support but not receiving any may also apply to the succession for a financial contribution, on the same conditions.

For more information, see the section Wills.

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