One of the most complicated areas of family law is determining when an order for spousal support ends.
The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines provide a guideline for the duration of spousal support. If there are minor children it usually serves that spousal support should be payable until the youngest child is 18. This is designed to recognize that the parent receiving spousal support will have child rearing responsibilities that will continue until the child is 18.
Another factor that the guidelines take into account is the length of the marriage. Often the recommended duration will be between half of the number of years that spouses resided together and the total number of years they lived together.
In a longer marriage where the spouses are older the “Rule of 65” may apply. If the age of the spouse who is receiving spousal support and the total number of years of the relationship add up to 65 or more the guidelines will recommend that spousal support be paid indefinitely.
Indefinite spousal support does not however mean an infinite spousal support. Even if there is an Order that spousal support be paid indefinitely it will always be subject to a review or termination if there is a material change in either of the spouses’ circumstances.
Examples of a material change could be if the recipient spouse inherits a significant amount of money which reduces their need for support. Another would be if the payor spouse retires and can no longer pay the spousal support.
Deborah A. Todd