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Tips for talking about spousal support

Spousal support can provide critical financial resources for someone after a couple divorces or separates. However, it can be a heated topic, so it can be helpful to consider some tips before you and your partner or soon-to-be-ex proceed to talking about spousal support.

One thing everyone interested in spousal support should do is first review eligibility and guidelines in Ontario. These can help you understand who is eligible for support, how much it may be, and how long the payments might last. Knowing this can help you establish and manage expectations.  You can find further information about spousal support at our website.

Before you get married

If you are getting married, you can talk to your partner about spousal support (also called alimony) when discussing a marriage contract (or prenuptial agreement). You can use this contract to sort out issues like property division and spousal support obligations or releases. 

If you are discussing spousal support before you get married, it can be wise to:

  • Use a non-confrontational tone 
  • Listen to your partner’s concerns, questions and doubts
  • Explore the situations when support would be necessary
  • Talk about any marital, financial and professional expectations you have
  • Be open and honest
  • Consult lawyers before signing or even drafting anything

Using these tips can make the conversation a little easier and maximize the chances that any agreement you reach is valid and enforceable and any details regarding support are fair.

When the relationship ends

If your relationship is ending, talks about spousal support can have a very different tone and approach. Often, they can get contentious, and parties can struggle to reach an agreement on their own. 

Under these circumstances, talking about spousal support can mean:

  • Meeting in a neutral place
  • Staying calm and refraining from making emotional decisions
  • Having your financial information organized
  • Talking breaks if the conversations get heated
  • Enlisting the help of professionals like mediators and accountants
  • Scrutinizing financial disclosure
  • Going to court or arbitration for a judge or arbitrator to decide if you cannot reach an agreement

The bottom line is that preparation and a level head can go a long way when discussing a difficult topic like spousal support with someone you may no longer like or trust.

Parties typically do not see eye-to-eye on the various aspects of spousal support. Considering these tips can make it easier when talking about spousal support and help move toward a satisfactory outcome.  

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