Jeremy Meeks and his estranged wife, Melissa Meeks, are filing for divorce. Jeremy Meeks is playing hardball with his estranged wife, arguing that she is not entitled to a penny of spousal support.
Jeremy is arguing that Melissa was the sole breadwinner during the parties’ marriage, and as such, she is not entitled to any support.
In Ontario, how does entitlement play a role in determining spousal support obligations?
Before a court considers the quantum and duration of support that must be made, entitlement to support must be positively determined. That is, an income disparity between the two spouses does not automatically lead to a spouses’ entitlement to spousal support.
There are three claims for entitlement:
- Non-Compensatory; and
- Contractual Claims
Compensatory entitlement is established based on the economic loss or disadvantage that the support recipient experienced as a result of the breakdown of the marriage. For example, the roles assumed by each spouse during a marriage may result in an economic disadvantage to one spouse but an economic benefit to the other (i.e., one spouse stayed home to care for the children and tend to the home so that the other spouse could pursue career opportunities).
Non-compensatory entitlement is based on the financial needs of the support-recipient, such as basic needs of the support-recipient or the need to maintain the recipient spouse’s standard of living, such that it is commensurate with the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.
Notably, in many cases, the support recipient relies upon both compensatory and non-compensatory claims. Often times, a support-recipient’s entitlement stems from both bases. In fact, the longer two people are married, the more likely that entitlement may be established from both bases.
Finally, spouses may be entitled to spousal support on the basis of a contractual claim. For example, if a marriage contract or a separation agreement exists that provides for spousal support, said support will be payable upon the spouses’ separation.