There are time limits for spousal support applications for legally married spouses and spouses living in a marriage–like relationship.

Spouses intending to make a claim of support against their spouse after separation should be aware that there are different time limitations for making the claim for support, depending on whether or not they were legally married or were they were living in a common-law relationship.

If the spouses are legally married, under the Divorce Act, there are no time limits for claim for a spousal support claim. However, pursuant to the Family Law Act, there are certain times limits for unmarried couples to make a common-law spousal support claim.

Firstly, in order to make a spousal support claim for unmarried couples, they must have lived together in a marriage–like relationship for a period of at least two years. The exception to this is if the parties have had a child, then even if they have not lived together continuously for a period of at least two years, one spouse can make a spousal support claim against the other spouse.

However, in order to make the spousal support claim if the parties were never married, the application must be brought within two years of the date of separation. This two-year time limitation may be suspended during any period in which the spouses are engaged in family dispute resolution with a family dispute resolution professional, as defined by the Family Law Act.

A spouse who is considering making a support claim against their former spouse should as soon as possible after the date of separation, consult a family lawyer who is familiar with the law under the Divorce Act, if the parties were legally married and the Family Law Act, if the parties were living in a marriage–like relationship, as it pertains to spousal support to ensure that they have complied with the time limits for making a claim for support.


For more information about common-law spousal support, please contact Joe McStravick at DBM Law at ( jmcstravick (at) dbmlaw (dot) ca