Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines

With funding from the Department of Justice, two family law professors developed guidelines in an effort to make spousal support more predictable and consistent. The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines suggest appropriate ranges of support in a variety of situations for spouses entitled to support. The guidelines do not provide advice on whether a spouse is entitled to support. In each case, entitlement to support depends on how the law applies to their situation.

The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines are not law. However, judges often base their decisions about spousal support on the guidelines. Many family lawyers also use the guideline when helping clients to make decisions and set up spousal support agreements out of court.

Tools have been developed to help professionals use the guidelines. They are listed below.

Key points

If you want to use the guidelines yourself to estimate possible spousal support amounts, be aware of key points.

You first need to know if either you or your spouse is entitled to support under the law that applies in your situation. It may be a waste of your time and energy to calculate a spousal support amount if there is no legal requirement to pay it. Your lawyer can advise you on this.
You may need software designed to calculate spousal support. This software will make it easier to make some of the more difficult calculations. For example, you will likely need to calculate some tax considerations. Some companies in the private sector sell software for this purpose, and many family lawyers use it. There are also online calculators that may help with simple calculations, but not with the harder calculations. The Department of Justice was not involved in the development of this software. We cannot give advice or recommendations on any software you may wish to purchase.
Provincial and territorial laws
The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines were designed to be used under the federal Divorce Act when married couples divorce. Federal, provincial and territorial family laws sometimes overlap, so courts and lawyers also often use the guidelines to calculate support amounts under provincial and territorial legislation. However, some provincial and territorial laws have unique features that these guidelines do not deal with.

Tools for using the guidelines

The following tools are designed to help legal professionals calculate possible spousal support amounts.