How Do I Get Out of Paying Spousal Support?

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Unlike an obligation to support a child, there is no guaranteed obligation that one spouse must support the other other. However, if you were in a relationship that qualifies as a spousal relationship, you must face the possibility that you might have to pay support when your relationship ends.

The Family Law Act defines as spouse as including:

  • married spouses,
  • people who lived in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years, and
  • people who lived in a marriage-like relationship for less than two years and have had a child together.

If you really want to get out of paying spousal support, the time to start planning is at the beginning of your relationship:

  • Sign a cohabitation agreement (if you're not planning on getting married) or a marriage agreement (if you're getting married) which requires each of you gives up the right to make a claim for spousal support in the event that your relationship ends. Remember, this agreement must not only be fair at the time it is executed, it must also be fair at the time it comes into effect.
  • Make sure that your spouse never leaves the paid work force. If you have a child, make sure that you're the one who stays home to care for the baby or make sure that your spouse returns to work as soon as is humanly possible.
  • Make sure that your spouse or partner never sacrifices a job opportunity to care for the family, such as passing up a promotion, going to part-time work or leaving work altogether.

Spousal support may be payable whenever one spouse leaves a relationship at a financial disadvantage compared to the other spouse. As long as there is a difference in the parties' financial situations, there is a possibility that support will be paid.

There's a lot more information about the sorts of things the court will take into account in assessing a duty to pay support in the pages on Spousal Support.

This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by JP Boyd, March 24, 2013.


JP Boyd on Family Law © John-Paul Boyd and Courthouse Libraries BC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.