Spousal support or spousal maintenance

Sections 160 through 174 deals with spousal support and reads as follows:

Duty to provide support for entitled spouse

160 If, after considering the objectives set out in section 161 [objectives of spousal support], a spouse is entitled to spousal support, the other spouse has a duty to provide support for the spouse in accordance with section 162 [determining spousal support].

Objectives of spousal support

161 In determining entitlement to spousal support, the parties to an agreement or the court must consider the following objectives:

(a) to recognize any economic advantages or disadvantages to the spouses arising from the relationship between the spouses or the breakdown of that relationship;

(b) to apportion between the spouses any financial consequences arising from the care of their child, beyond the duty to provide support for the child;

(c) to relieve any economic hardship of the spouses arising from the breakdown of the relationship between the spouses;

(d) as far as practicable, to promote the economic self-sufficiency of each spouse within a reasonable period of time.

Determining spousal support

162 The amount and duration of spousal support, if any, must be determined on consideration of the conditions, means, needs and other circumstances of each spouse, including the following:

(a) the length of time the spouses lived together;

(b) the functions performed by each spouse during the period they lived together;

(c) an agreement between the spouses, or an order, relating to the support of either spouse.

Agreements respecting spousal support

163 (1) An agreement respecting spousal support may provide for the circumstances under which spousal support will change or end, including if a spouse lives with another person or enters a relationship with another spouse, but a condition of spousal support that the spouse abstain from sexual relations after separation is not binding.

(2) Despite section 160 [duty to provide support for entitled spouse], in making an agreement respecting spousal support, a spouse may agree to release the other spouse from liability for spousal support.

(3) A written agreement respecting spousal support that is filed in the court is enforceable under this Act and the Family Maintenance Enforcement Act as if it were an order of the court.

Setting aside agreements respecting spousal support

164 (1) This section applies if spouses have a written agreement respecting spousal support, with the signature of each spouse witnessed by at least one person.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), the same person may witness each signature.

(3) On application by a spouse, the court may set aside or replace with an order made under this Division all or part of an agreement described in subsection (1) only if satisfied that one or more of the following circumstances existed when the parties entered into the agreement:

(a) a spouse failed to disclose income, significant property or debts, or other information relevant to the negotiation of the agreement;

(b) a spouse took improper advantage of the other spouse’s vulnerability, including the other party’s ignorance, need or distress;

(c) a spouse did not understand the nature or consequences of the agreement;

(d) other circumstances that would under the common law cause all or part of a contract to be voidable.

(4) The court may decline to act under subsection (3) if, on consideration of all of the evidence, the court would not replace the agreement with an order that is substantially different from that set out in the agreement.

(5) Despite subsection (3), the court may set aside or replace with an order made under this Division all or part of an agreement if satisfied that none of the circumstances described in that subsection existed when the parties entered into the agreement but that the agreement is significantly unfair on consideration of the following:

(a) the length of time that has passed since the agreement was made;

(b) any changes, since the agreement was made, in the condition, means, needs or other circumstances of a spouse;

(c) the intention of the spouses, in making the agreement, to achieve certainty;

(d) the degree to which the spouses relied on the terms of the agreement;

(e) the degree to which the agreement meets the objectives set out in section 161 [objectives of spousal support].

(6) Despite subsection (1), the court may apply this section to an unwitnessed written agreement if the court is satisfied it would be appropriate to do so in all of the circumstances.

Orders respecting spousal support

165 (1) On application, the court may order a spouse to pay to a designated person the amount the court considers appropriate as spousal support after taking into consideration section 160 [duty to provide support for entitled spouse].

(2) An application under subsection (1) may be made

(a) by either spouse or both,

(b) on behalf of a spouse, by a designated agency under the Adult Guardianship Act after an investigation conducted under Part 3 of that Act, or

(c) if the right to apply for an order under this section is assigned to a minister under the Employment and Assistance Act or the Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Act, by the minister to whom the right is assigned in the name of the government or the name of the person who made the assignment.

(3) The court may not make an order respecting spousal support if the spouses have an agreement described in section 164 (1) [setting aside agreements respecting spousal support], unless all or part of the agreement is set aside under that section.

Misconduct of spouse

166 In making an order respecting spousal support, the court must not consider any misconduct of a spouse, except conduct that arbitrarily or unreasonably

(a) causes, prolongs or aggravates the need for spousal support, or

(b) affects the ability to provide spousal support.

Changing, suspending or terminating orders respecting spousal support

167 (1) On application, a court may change, suspend or terminate an order respecting spousal support, and may do so prospectively or retroactively.

(2) Before making an order under subsection (1), the court must be satisfied that at least one of the following exists, and take it into consideration:

(a) a change in the condition, means, needs or other circumstances of either spouse has occurred since the order respecting spousal support was made;

(b) evidence of a substantial nature that was not available during the previous hearing has become available;

(c) evidence of a lack of financial disclosure by either spouse was discovered after the order was made.

(3) Despite subsection (2), if an order requires payment of spousal support for a definite period or until a specified event occurs, the court, on an application made after the expiration of that period or occurrence of that event, may not make an order under subsection (1) for the purpose of resuming spousal support unless satisfied that

(a) the order is necessary to relieve economic hardship that

(i) arises from a change described in subsection (2) (a), and

(ii) is related to the relationship between the spouses, and

(b) the changed circumstances, had they existed at the time the order was made, would likely have resulted in a different order.

Review of spousal support

168 (1) An agreement or order respecting spousal support may provide for a review of spousal support, and for this purpose may provide for

(a) the review to occur on or after a specified date, after a specified period of time or after a specified event has occurred,

(b) the type of family dispute resolution by which the review will take place,

(c) the grounds on which a review will be permitted, and

(d) the matters to be considered for the purposes of a review.

(2) On review, a court, on application, may do one or more of the following:

(a) confirm an agreement or order respecting spousal support;

(b) set aside all or part of an agreement, or terminate an order, respecting spousal support;

(c) make an order under section 165 [orders respecting spousal support].

(3) In making an order under this section, the court is not required to consider any of the matters referred to in sections 164 [setting aside agreements respecting spousal support] and 167 (2) [changing, suspending or terminating orders respecting spousal support].

Review of spousal support if pension benefits

169 (1) This section applies if an agreement or order does not address whether spousal support may be reviewed under section 168 [review of spousal support] and if

(a) a spouse who must pay spousal support starts receiving benefits under a pension, or

(b) a spouse who is entitled to receive spousal support becomes eligible to receive benefits under a pension.

(2) In the circumstances set out in subsection (1), a court, on application, may do one or more of the following:

(a) confirm an agreement or order respecting spousal support;

(b) set aside all or part of an agreement, or terminate an order, respecting spousal support;

(c) make an order under section 165 [orders respecting spousal support].

(3) In making an order under this section, the court is not required to consider any of the matters referred to in sections 164 [setting aside agreements respecting spousal support] and 167 (2) [changing, suspending or terminating orders respecting spousal support].

Division 5 — General

Matters that may be provided for in support orders

170 In an order respecting child support or spousal support, the court may provide for one or more of the following:

(a) that payments be made periodically, annually or otherwise, for an indefinite or limited period or until a specified event occurs;

(b) that child support or spousal support be paid respecting any period of time before the date the application for the order is made;

(c) that payment of a lump sum be made, directly or in trust;

(d) that a charge be registered against specific property to secure payment;

(e) that a person who has a contract of life insurance within the meaning of Part 3 of the Insurance Act

(i) designate his or her spouse or child as a beneficiary, irrevocably or for the period designated by the court, and

(ii) either pay all premiums on the policy, or authorize his or her spouse to pay all premiums on the policy and to compensate the spouse for doing so;

(f) that expenses arising from and incidental to prenatal care of a mother or child, or the birth of a child, be paid, except in relation to the prenatal care of a surrogate within the meaning of section 29 (1) [parentage if surrogacy arrangement];

(g) subject to section 171 (1) [support obligations after death], that a duty to pay child support or spousal support continues after the death of the person having the duty, and is a debt of his or her estate for the period fixed by the court.

Support obligations after death

171 (1) Before making an order under section 170 (g) [matters that may be provided for in support orders], the court must consider all of the following factors:

(a) that the person receiving child support or spousal support has a significant need for support that is likely to continue past the death of the person paying child support or spousal support;

(b) that the estate of the person paying child support or spousal support is sufficient to meet the need referred to in paragraph (a) after taking into account all claims on the estate, including those of creditors and beneficiaries;

(c) that no other practical means exist to meet the need referred to in paragraph (a).

(2) If an agreement, or an order under section 170 (g), is made and the person having a duty to pay child support or spousal support dies, the person’s personal representative may make an application, and the court may make an order, to

(a) set aside or replace with an order made under this Part all or part of the agreement, or

(b) change, suspend or terminate the order.

(3) If a person having a duty to pay child support or spousal support under an agreement or order dies and the agreement or order is silent respecting whether the duty continues after the death of the person and is a debt of his or her estate,

(a) the person receiving support may make an application under section 149 [orders respecting child support] or 165 [orders respecting spousal support], and

(b) if, on consideration of the factors set out in subsection (1) of this section, an order is made, the duty to pay child support or spousal support continues despite the death of the person and is a debt of his or her estate for the period fixed by the court.

Separate support amounts required

172 If the court makes both an order for child support and an order for spousal support, the court must specify the amounts of support separately rather than as a single amount.

Priority of child support

173 (1) In making an agreement or order respecting spousal support, the parties to the agreement and the court must give priority to any duty to pay child support.

(2) If, as a result of giving priority to a duty to pay child support, the parties do not make an agreement respecting spousal support or make an agreement respecting spousal support in an amount that is less than it otherwise would have been,

(a) the agreement must indicate that the circumstances referred to in this subsection apply, and

(b) if child support is subsequently reduced or terminated,

(i) the reduction or termination is a change in circumstances, and

(ii) the court may make an order under section 165 [orders respecting spousal support].

(3) If, as a result of giving priority to a duty to pay child support, a court is unable to make an order respecting spousal support or makes an order respecting spousal support in an amount that is less than it otherwise would have been,

(a) the court must give reasons for doing so, and

(b) if child support is subsequently reduced or terminated,

(i) the reduction or termination is a change in circumstances, and

(ii) the court may make an order under section 165 or 167 [changing, suspending or terminating orders respecting spousal support], as applicable.

(4) Section 164 [setting aside agreements respecting spousal support] does not apply to the making of an order under this section.

Reducing or cancelling arrears

174 (1) On application, a court may reduce or cancel arrears owing under an agreement or order respecting child support or spousal support if satisfied that it would be grossly unfair not to reduce or cancel the arrears.

(2) For the purposes of this section, the court may consider

(a) the efforts of the person responsible for paying support to comply with the agreement or order respecting support,

(b) the reasons why the person responsible for paying support cannot pay the arrears owing, and

(c) any circumstances that the court considers relevant.

(3) If a court reduces arrears under this section, the court may order that interest does not accrue on the reduced arrears if satisfied that it would be grossly unfair not to make such an order.

(4) If a court cancels arrears under this section, the court may cancel interest that has accrued, under section 11.1 of the Family Maintenance Enforcement Act, on the cancelled arrears if satisfied that it would be grossly unfair not to cancel the accrued interest.