In a marriage, spouses are obligated to provide each other with financial support.

Couples who are unmarried are not under a legal obligation to provide each other with financial support, as confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada in a widely anticipated ruling on January 25, 2013.

When there is a breakdown of the marriage, under certain circumstances one spouse may be required to provide the other with support payments, either on a monthly basis or as a lump sum.

The court will examine if one spouse was put into a situation of financial dependence through the marriage and examine the capacity of that spouse to achieve financial autonomy.

The amount of spousal support payable is not based on a formula, but on an assessment by the court of the needs and means of both parties.  The court would examine the assets and liabilities of each spouse, as well as their expenses and income.

If it is determined that spousal support is appropriate, the court may impose a time limit on the duration of payment, based on factors that predict when the recipient will be financially independent.

Spousal support payments are administered through the Quebec Ministry of Revenue, which collects and distributes the payments once it has received a court judgment.

If a couple agrees to handle the collection and payment between themselves, they must explicitly state that in an agreement ratified by the court and request an exemption.  The spouse paying the support must then provide a surety to Revenue Quebec to guarantee the payments.

The above is intended to provide general information and is not to be taken as legal advice for a particular situation.  If you require a legal opinion, please contact an attorney.