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Ulysses101, Lawyer
Category: Canada Law
Satisfied Customers: 3285
Experience:  11 years experience in Canada family law, plus criminal, civil, and employment
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I am a 54 year old full-time homemaker who has been married

Customer Question

I am a 54 year old full-time homemaker who has been married 21 years and before that we lived together for 2 years. I live in manitoba. Have 19 year old son entering 2nd year university who lives at home and an 18 year old daughter entering 1st year university who also lives at home. Student loans and RESP (15,000 for them to share) are what is funding their education.
I personally have no income and haven't worked for 19 years except at contract jobs that each lasted a couple of weeks or months here and there over the years. Prior to marriage had sporadic work history so no pension plan except CPP at 65 which will pay $245 per month and later OAS at $582 per month. Husband works for federal government and earns approximately $73,000 per year however after taxes etc take home pay is about $3600 per month. We are struggling. Had to refinance mortgage several times due to financial difficulties. We still owe $180,000 on mortgage with 22 years remaining and owe $40,000 credit card debt (taking care of elderly parents, medical issues, etc). We have NO savings but we do have $32000 in RRSP for retirement. Hubby retiring in 3 years and just told me he doesn't love me and never did and wants a divorce. I am devastated! And scared. My question is, am I entitled to spousal support and money for the kids (even though they are adults) because they are in university. If I am entitled, how much would it get and for how long?
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Canada Law
Expert:  Ulysses101 replied 4 months ago.

Hello, thank you for the question. It's a good one.

There are a couple of key concepts to go over here.

Firstly, children of a marriage are entitled to be supported when the parents are separated. Child support normally extends to the age of majority, or when the child is finished high school. If the child is unable to withdraw from parental care and control after that age, they are still entitled to be supported. This happens most commonly when the child is disabled, or is registered in a full time post secondary education programming and attending it full time. Generally this support runs until the end of the first degree or diploma, but it can be extended.

So yes, if the children are living under your roof, or even if they treat your residence as "home base" while they are away at their studies, you can still get support for them.

The father earns $73000 per year, so the support for 2 children on that annual income in Manitoba is $1,012 per month. So unless there are other serious extenuating factors, that's what a court would order.

Sometimes with older children, the court will order a lower amount paid directly to the child, taking other factors into account, such as if your husband takes over more than his share of the debt of the marriage.

As well, if you ask the court to order your husband to contribute towards the children's tuition and other basic education costs you'll likely get that too. These costs are normally split in proportion to the parents' incomes, with the child contributing a reasonable amount from their own work and student loans.

You've asked about spousal support too. Yes, you are absolutely entitled to spousal support after a long term marriage like this. However spousal support isn't as cut and dried as child support is. The court takes a variety of factors into account, including the incomes of each party, their age and health, the length of the marriage, how long it will take the spouse claiming support to become self sufficient (if ever), the asset base of each spouse after the property is divided, and the presence or absence of child support payments. The needs of the claimant are examined, as is the other party's ability to pay. Naturally, there are tax consequences of all this too which is worked into the equation.

A good place to start is to go to a website called which is a free basic version of the guidelines used by judges to help come up with a figure of how much support and for how long. Go there and play with it, enter figures as are appropriate to you, and see what ranges you get. You might be surprised.

Remember that your husband has a pretty solid pension if he's a regular employee of the federal government, so there's money here locked away. It's not a desperate for you as you seem to be fearing.

So I recommend that you go to that website and play around with it, and make an appointment to see a family law lawyer soon. I know that lawyers aren't cheap but this is complicated stuff and there's too much at stake to try to do this on your own.

Does that help? I'll await your question or comment. If I've answered you then I'd appreciate a positive service rating please, as that's how I get credit from the site for helping you today.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I am not certain if you are completely understanding. We are in huge debt and have a l9ng time and la4ge amount still owing on mortgage as I said. Today, at this moment, my husband only CLEARS $3600 after taxes and at the end of the month we have NO money left and are, at times, in overdraft and we have $4.68 in our savings account. We can't save as there is nothing left TO save at month's end. We have a total RRSP amount of $32,000 which we will split upon divorce. In 3 years time, at age 58, my husband will be retiring and living off his superannuation (also known as his pension) which will greatly reduce his take home pay to about $3,000 per month. He/we have no other pensions except for CPP which, for my husband when he claims it, reduces his superannuation by the amount he receives for CPP so it equals out to same - only $3000 per month NET.HOW will he be able to pay child support, and spousal support with a $3,000 net pay?? That is only $1,500 EACH household to cover the expenses of 2 households AND child support. Even when we sell the house we won't have much money. We are told we can get $310,000 for the home but after paying off mortgage and debts and realtor costs and all closing costs we are left with about $60,000 left to SPLIT. That is IT - there is nothing else. How will he pay on that amount?? I know courts won't leave him destitute
Expert:  Ulysses101 replied 4 months ago.

I know that there doesn't seem like a lot to go around, and the court would take that into account. When the children are older the numbers aren't carved in stone. And regarding spousal support, if after paying child support there's no ability to pay any spousal support, then the court will consider the numbers carefully.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Oh and also forgot to include in those expenses the cost of lawyers. I have no money of my own and no support group so who pays for the lawyers? Does my husband have to pay for BOTH lawyers?? FYI before coming to this website I DID go to my support and again the numbers are that I actually end up with MORE than my husband does and yet federal law says I am entitled to between 36% and 47% of his income.
Expert:  Ulysses101 replied 4 months ago.

That's pretty typical in your case. Yes, you'd wind up with over half of the income, because you're responsible for providing for the children's basic needs as well if they are living with you.

Your provincial Legal Aid might be in a position to help you pay for a lawyer, you'd have to check with them.

You'll get through this but you need some professional help. As you said, this is an absolutely life changing event and there's a lot to get through before you'll feel like yourself again. So don't rush it, don't make sudden decisions based on emotion, and consult with your lawyer before agreeing to anything.

Does that make sense?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
after reading your last answer stating that if after paying child support there is no ability to pay spousal support the courts will consider the numbers carefully - what I am hearing that when all is said and done either I will receive NO spousal support or very little - so in effect I will be left destitute as I am only 54 and have no job or prospects. Can't claim my measly $245.00 per month CPP until age 65 or if I claim earlier it goes to about $100 per month. So I will have to go on social assistance and use food banks. Even if best case scenario is that the kids work and pay for university themselves so husband doesn't have to pay child support, when we split his income 50/50 then upon his retirement we would each have to live on $1500 per month. Well below poverty level.
Expert:  Ulysses101 replied 4 months ago.

You're assuming the worst. Until the full numbers get crunched, including the value of the pension, don't assume that you'll wind up destitute.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Never mind. You don't get it - we KNOW the final numbers of my husband's take home pay and pensions etc. Right now it is $3640 and upon retirement it will be $3000. Numbers confirmed thru his pension plan. It is simple math - $3,000 per month ÷ 2 (if in best case scenario I got 50% of his earnings and kids are moved out on their own supporting themselves) = $1,500 EACH PER MONTH to cover food, shelter, utilities, prescriptions, health care, transportation and miscellaneous per household. And the $16,000 one-time lump sum payment each from cashing in RRSP and the $30,000 one-time lump sum payment each from splitting proceeds from the house. So $46,000 each there which needs to last us 25 years assuming we die at age 83.By my math we are BOTH destitute in this case.
Expert:  Ulysses101 replied 4 months ago.

I do get it. I work on this kind of thing all the time. Firstly, you're ignoring tax treatments. Please, I promise you that you're looking at this too "common sense", the numbers will be different when everything is taken into account.

Expert:  Ulysses101 replied 4 months ago.

Is there more about this that you'd like to discuss? I'm not feeling like you are satisfied with our conversation. If you are then I'd appreciate a positive service rating.

If I didn't telly you anything you didn't already know, feel free to ask customer service for your deposit to be returned to you (unless you're on a subscription).

But I'm still here if you'd like to talk more.


Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I feel like we are going around in circles. I read the divorce act and it says that, if the kids were self-supporting (just an example) then we would use the "without child" formula. So using that formula the act clearly states that I, the recipient, would be entitled to 1.5% (low end) to 2% (high end) of the difference between my husband's income and my income UP TO A MAXIMUM of 37.5% (low end) and 50% (high end) at 25 years. Well first off we have only been married 21 years, cohabitation for 2 prior, for total of 23 years so I wouldn't receive the maximum 37.5% even at the low end.Then the act says that duration of support (though not guaranteed) would be per 1 year of marriage. It also states that if doing this would leave the payor broke, destitute - whatever word you want to use, that the amount paid to me would be lower. Well again when the ABSOLUTE sum total that we have to work with is $3,000 to support 2 households (since his superannuation will be clawed back at age 65 when he receives his CPP) then I don't see how one or both of us are NOT left broke. Even if I received 50% of his income (have to be together 25 years for that) that is still on your $1500 per month.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Then at 65 when my CPP kicks in ($245 per month) the courts can lessen the amount my husband pays me by the amount of my CPP (so I would still only be getting - at the high end of 50% of hubby's earnings - $1500 per month. I want to know how you figure it would be more - numbers don't lie.

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