5 Ways to Calculate Retroactive Spousal Support in Canada

Calculating retroactive spousal support on an iPhone

Spousal support is financial support that one spouse typically pays the other after marriage or a common-law relationship ends. It is meant to help the receiving spouse maintain their standard of living and may be delivered on a temporary or permanent basis. There are instances where the other party can pay off spousal support for a past period after legal separation. But how does the court compute it? Here are some factors to consider.

1. Reason Why Support is Not Sought Earlier

If a spouse is seeking support for a period that has already passed, the court will need a good reason why this is the case. For instance, if a spouse has been caring for a child and has put their career on hold, the court may be more likely to grant support for a more extended time than if the spouse has worked steadily throughout the marriage.

2. Conduct of Payor Spouse

If a payor spouse has misbehaved during the marriage, that behaviour may factor into the court’s decision. For example, suppose the payor spouse committed adultery, cheated the other spouse out of money, or was abusive. In that case, the court may grant more support to the spouse who was the victim of this behaviour and give it for longer.

3. Circumstances of the Recipient

When courts determine spousal support, the recipient’s needs are also a significant consideration. The courts will consider the spouse’s current standard of living and the amount of money needed to maintain that standard. They will also consider the spouse’s ability to establish or maintain an adequate living standard. It is called the “spousal standard of living.”

It is important to note that the courts will not make the recipient’s living standard higher than during the marriage. In other words, the court will not consider whether the recipient should be able to maintain a higher standard of living than they did during the marriage. Only the current standard of living is relevant.

4. Potential Hardship of Spouse

The courts will also consider whether the spouse who is required to pay the spousal maintenance is facing hardship. Hardship can come in many forms. For example, if the spouse is required to pay child support, this will count as financial hardship. Also, if the paying spouse faces financial difficulties that make it challenging to maintain the same standard of living they had during the marriage, this would be a financial hardship.

5. Income of Both Parties

The courts will also consider the income of both parties when deciding about spousal maintenance. Essentially, the court will determine whether the spouse who is not receiving spousal maintenance is capable of supporting him or herself.

If the spouse can support him or herself, the court may be less inclined to award spousal maintenance. However, if the spouse cannot help him or herself, the court may be more willing to grant spousal maintenance.


There is no specific formula to compute the amount of retroactive support the court may award. The court will review the financial circumstances of both parties and determine the amount of fair and reasonable support. The court will also consider any factors that may have contributed to the delay in seeking retroactive support.

Spousal maintenance is a complex issue that is often the subject of heated debate. Although the court has the discretion to award spousal maintenance, there are certain factors that the court will consider in determining the retroactive spousal support the other party deserves.

Dreyer and Associates Lawyers LLP handles separation agreements, asset divisions, and family law cases. Our family lawyers in Langley have helped clients get the best resolutions for their court cases while preserving the best interest of their families. Our 90 years of combined experience allow us to provide the confidence our clients may need in court. Book an appointment for a consultation through our website today.





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