There are 3 ways that someone can be entitled to receive spousal.
1. “Contractual entitlement”. This means there was a contract in place, such as a Cohabitation Agreement, which pre-determines that there will be a spousal support entitlement, or a lack of entitlement after separation. It can also be used to predetermine how long spousal support will be paid and for how long.
2. “Compensatory support”. This means that one spouse has been economically disadvantaged by the role they assumed during a relationship. As an example, if a spouse leaves their employment to become a stay-at-home parent and remains out of the workforce for many years, they are presumably at a disadvantage to the other spouse who likely continued working and furthered their career.
3. “Needs based support”. This means that an analysis is performed of the “needs” and “means” of each spouse. Specifically, whether one spouse “needs” to receive spousal support to maintain a certain lifestyle, and whether the other spouse has the “means” to pay this support and still maintain a similar lifestyle to what the family enjoyed.
All scenarios involve an examination of various factors including:
• the specific roles each spouse assumed during the marriage
• the age of the parties at separation
• the ability of each spouse to earn an income after separation (and the amount of that income)
• and other various criteria that may influence the determination of spousal support
The basis upon which one is entitled to receive or must pay support may have an impact on the duration and quantum of spousal support. For this reason, you should speak with a family law lawyer to determine which scenario applies to you.