Family law: Gender bias and spousal support in Canada

On behalf of Gary Kirk of Kirk Montoute Dawson LLP posted in Family Law on Tuesday, August 29, 2017.

Traditionally after a divorce, a man financially supported his former wife, but that is changing. So, if women are earning more than their partners and divorce is looming on the horizon, should there be a reversal of what has been commonly accepted in terms of spousal support under family law in Canada? There are proponents who believe so.

Married couples are bound by the rules set out in the federal Divorce Act. The act stipulates that spousal support is most often paid when there are large discrepancies between the incomes of the spouses during the time of separation. Some provinces also allow spousal support for common law couples. However, common law couples must have lived together for a certain amount of time before being eligible for spousal support.

The courts are seeing more claims from men asking for spousal support. The legislation’s wording is gender neutral and courts are trying to curtail gender bias when making spousal support decisions. In determining spousal support a judge looks at things like the length of the marriage or relationship, the ages of those concerned, if there are children involved, the role each spouse played in the relationship and the financial picture of each person.

Lawyers in Canada are beginning to challenge spousal support biases in court. The courts are beginning to reflect social changes and are treating men and women without gender bias when it comes to making spousal support rulings. Canadians in such situations would be well advised to consult a lawyer experienced in family law as to spousal support legalities.

Source:, “It’s Time Ontario Courts Truly Rid Spousal Support Of Gender Bias“, Ron Schulman, Accessed on Aug. 17, 2017

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