Spousal Support Laws by Province

Spousal support laws in Canada are designed to provide financial assistance to a spouse after separation or divorce, ensuring that the economic impact of the breakup is more equitable. While the Divorce Act applies federally to married couples, common-law partners are often subject to provincial or territorial legislation. Here's a brief overview of spousal support in each province.


Framework: Family Law Act for common-law partners; Divorce Act for married couples.

Calculation: Follows the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines; considers length of cohabitation and financial disparity.

Unique Consideration: Courts may consider prenuptial agreements and conduct of the parties.

British Columbia

Framework: Family Law Act applies to both married and common-law couples (who have lived together for at least two years).

Calculation: Advisory guidelines; emphasis on economic hardship caused by the breakup.

Unique Consideration: Includes a focus on self-sufficiency incentives.


Framework: The Family Maintenance Act covers both married and common-law relationships (common-law recognized after three years or with a child).

Calculation: Advisory guidelines; considers financial need and ability to pay.

Unique Consideration: May adjust for significant financial contributions to the partner's career.

New Brunswick

Framework: Marital Property Act for married, and Family Services Act for common-law.

Calculation: Based on advisory guidelines; looks at duration of relationship and economic roles.

Unique Consideration: Courts can order support even if there's no financial need if it's considered just and reasonable.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Framework: Family Law Act addresses both married and common-law partners (after two years of cohabitation).

Calculation: Utilizes advisory guidelines; focuses on economic imbalance.

Unique Consideration: Recognizes non-financial contributions to the relationship.

Nova Scotia

Framework: Maintenance and Custody Act for common-law; Divorce Act for married.

Calculation: Advisory guidelines with emphasis on economic effects of the separation.

Unique Consideration: Support may be indefinite in long-term relationships.


Framework: Family Law Act for common-law (after three years or with a child); Divorce Act for married.

Calculation: Advisory guidelines; considers economic disadvantage from the relationship.

Unique Consideration: High threshold for common-law partner support.

Prince Edward Island

Framework: Family Law Act covers married and, in some cases, common-law partners.

Calculation: Guidelines-based; accounts for financial disparity.

Unique Consideration: Duration of support can be particularly influenced by the length of the relationship.


Framework: Civil Code of Quebec; unique due to civil law system. Applies to married and civil unions, but not to common-law partners.

Calculation: Discretionary, based on needs and means; considers the standard of living during the union.

Unique Consideration: Common-law partners have no automatic right to support, unlike in other provinces.


Framework: The Family Maintenance Act, 1997 for both married and common-law couples (living together for at least two years).

Calculation: Follows advisory guidelines; looks at economic disparity caused by the breakup.

Unique Consideration: Emphasis on fairness and the economic conditions of both parties.

Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut

Framework: Territories follow similar frameworks, applying the Divorce Act for married couples and territorial family laws for common-law relationships.

Calculation: Guidelines are used, with a focus on equitable financial distribution.

Unique Consideration: The remote location and living costs may influence support decisions.


Across Canada, while the federal Divorce Act provides a unified approach for married couples, spousal support for common-law partners varies significantly by province, reflecting diverse legal traditions and social policies. Individuals navigating separation or divorce are encouraged to seek province-specific legal advice to understand their rights and obligations fully.