How is Alimony Decided

 Divorce can be a complex and emotionally charged process, often involving the division of assets and the determination of spousal support, commonly known as alimony. In Ontario, alimony is governed by specific guidelines and factors that aim to ensure fairness and equity for both parties involved. In this blog post, we’ll explore the intricacies of how alimony is decided, shedding light on the legal considerations and processes that come into play. 

1. Legal Framework for Alimony: 

In Ontario, alimony falls under the Family Law Act and the Divorce Act, both of which establish the legal framework for spousal support. These laws provide guidelines for determining the amount and duration of alimony payments based on various factors. The goal is to ensure that the recipient spouse can maintain a standard of living similar to what they enjoyed during the marriage and that the paying spouse’s financial obligations are reasonable. 

2. Types of Alimony: 

There are two main types of alimony: compensatory and non-compensatory spousal support. Compensatory support is awarded to compensate a spouse for economic disadvantages suffered during the marriage or as a result of the marriage breakdown. Non-compensatory support, on the other hand, is awarded to address economic advantages or disadvantages arising from the marriage and its end. 

3. Factors Considered in Alimony Determination: 

When deciding on alimony, the court takes into account a range of factors to ensure a fair and reasonable outcome. These factors include: 

a. Length of Marriage: The duration of the marriage is often a crucial consideration. Longer marriages might result in higher alimony payments due to the greater interdependence that usually develops over time. 

b. Roles and Contributions: The roles and contributions of each spouse during the marriage are assessed. This includes financial contributions, homemaking, child-rearing, and other non-monetary contributions. 

c. Financial Need: The recipient spouse’s financial needs are carefully evaluated, taking into account their ability to support themselves post-divorce. 

d. Financial Capacity: The paying spouse’s financial capacity is a significant factor. The court considers their income, earning potential, and financial obligations when determining the alimony amount. 

e. Age and Health: The age and health of both spouses play a role. If a spouse is unable to work due to health issues, it may impact the alimony award. 

f. Standard of Living: The standard of living enjoyed by the couple during the marriage is an essential reference point for determining an appropriate level of support. 

g. Custodial Arrangements: If children are involved, the custody and access arrangements may impact alimony decisions, as well as child support calculations. 

4. Duration of Alimony: 

The duration of alimony payments varies and depends on factors such as the length of the marriage, the recipient spouse’s financial prospects, and the circumstances of the divorce. In some cases, alimony might be awarded temporarily to help the recipient spouse become financially independent. In other cases, it could be ongoing, particularly for long-term marriages or when a spouse has limited earning capacity. 

5. Modifying Alimony Orders: 

Alimony orders can be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances for either spouse. For instance, if the paying spouse’s income substantially decreases, or the recipient spouse’s financial situation improves, the alimony amount could be adjusted. 


Deciding on alimony involves a comprehensive assessment of various factors to ensure that both parties are treated fairly and equitably. The legal framework, types of alimony, and factors considered all contribute to the final determination. If you are facing a divorce or separation and have concerns about alimony, it’s advisable to seek the guidance of an experienced family law lawyer who can help navigate the complexities of the process, ensuring your rights and financial interests are protected. Remember, understanding how alimony is decided can empower you to make informed decisions during a challenging time. 

The experienced family lawyers at Mikhailitchenko Law Office can guide you through the divorce process along with organizing alimony benefits. Contact us today to get the help you need by emailing us at or call us at (416) 307-2070.