Family law: How and when can spousal support payments be stopped?

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Family law: How and when can spousal support payments be stopped?

Spousal support is awarded in some Ontario divorces. How long payments will continue depends on the details of the situation. Family law has some general rules about spousal support. In some cases, court orders or separation agreements will specify an end date such as the time of the recipient’s remarriage, or upon the death of the person paying support. Some support agreements have review dates at which time the circumstances of both parties will be evaluated to determine whether the amount must be modified or terminated.

Certain rules apply to all spousal support orders; however, exceptions usually exist. Spousal support will always end upon the death of the recipient, but not necessarily when the payor dies. The existence of a Registered Retirement Savings Plan or life insurance may allow spousal support payments to continue. Unless so specified in a separation agreement, payments will not automatically cease when the recipient remarries or moves in with another person, nor will it automatically stop when the payor retires.

With no specified end date, spousal support will be indefinite. If both parties agree, they can decide on a date to end support payments. However, if they don’t agree, they will have to file an application with the court to terminate payments.

If a petition is required, it might help to have the support and guidance of an experienced Ontario family law lawyer. He or she can help with demonstrating that a material change in circumstances has taken place. With the successful presentation of the petition, the court can modify the spousal support order to deal with the changes.

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