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Family law: Spousal support is not always enforceable

When negotiating a divorce settlement in Ontario, careful consideration must be given to aspects like spousal support. Family law in each jurisdiction can differ when it comes to enforcement of spousal support. If the party responsible for payment relocates, it might be impossible to get the support on which the other party relies.

An example is a woman who signed an agreement with her former spouse for him to pay a specific amount of spousal support every month along with payments to make up for arrears. These arose from his failure to pay agreed upon support during the time of separation. The couple was married and divorced in Canada, but her ex had since relocated.

To complicate matters even more, he moved across the border and now resides in the United States in a state that does not enforce spousal support. Unfortunately, there is nothing she can do to force him to pay. Because of cases such as this one, it is advisable to get professional advice when negotiating settlement agreements in a divorce.

An Ontario family law lawyer can explain the different options that can be used to protect a person from ending up without support. One of those may be to do future calculations and seek a lump-sum payment in spousal support. If that is not a viable option, it may be best to stipulate conditions related to relocation and other eventualities in the spousal support agreement for the approval of the court. A lawyer can provide the necessary support and guidance throughout, and do whatever is reasonably possible to protect the client's interests.

Source:, "How do I get my ex to pay the spousal support I'm owed?", Debbie Hartzman, Aug. 17, 2017

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