Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines

Growing concerns have been expressed by family law lawyers and judges that the current Canadian law of spousal support is excessively discretionary, creating an unacceptable degree of uncertainty and unpredictability. Responding to these concerns, the federal Department of Justice sponsored a project, which commenced in September of 2001, to explore ways of bringing more consistency and predictability into the current law of spousal support, and in particular the option of developing spousal support guidelines that could be used on an advisory basis only within the existing legislative framework. Professor Carol Rogerson (Faculty of Law, University of Toronto) and Professor Rollie Thompson (Dalhousie Law School) were retained by the Department to direct that project. A Draft Proposal for Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines was released in January 2005. In July 2008 the final version of the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines was released, together with a Report on Revisions highlighting the main differences between the final version and the Draft Proposal. 

Below you will find links to some of the main documents related to this project, as well as to some related material on the law of spousal support.

  1. The Final Version

    "Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines" (July 2008), prepared for the Department of Justice by Professor Carol Rogerson and Professor Rollie Thompson.

    "Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines: Report on Revisions" (July 2008), prepared for the Department of Justice by Professor Carol Rogerson and Professor Rollie Thompson.

  2. Tools for Using the Final Version

    "The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines: A New and Improved User's Guide to the Final Version" (March, 2010), prepared prepared for the Department of Justice by Professor Carol Rogerson and Professor Rollie Thompson. 

    "Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines: A User's Guide to the Final Version" (first draft, July 11, 2008), prepared for the Department of Justice by Professor Carol Rogerson and Professor Rollie Thompson.

    "Obtaining Reliable and Repeatable SSAG Calculations" (Nov. 2009), prepared for the Department of Justice by John-Paul Boyd.

    "Steps to Using the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines: With Child Support Formula" (October 2009) by Lonny L. Balbi.

    "Steps to Using the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines: Without Child Support Formula" (October 2009) by Lonny L. Balbi

  3. Documents Related to the Development of the Advisory Guidelines 

    "Developing Spousal Support Guidelines in Canada: Beginning the Discussion"  (December, 2002), Background Paper prepared for the Department of Justice Canada by Professor Carol Rogerson, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto

    "Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines: A Draft Proposal" (January 2005), report prepared for the Department of Justice Canada by Professor Carol Rogerson and Professor Rollie Thompson

    Carol Rogerson and Rollie Thompson, "Issues for Discussion: Revising the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines" August 2006.

  4. Advisory Guidelines Case Law Updates and Commentary

    Carol Rogerson and Rollie Thompson, “The Canadian Experiment with Spousal Support Guidelines” (2011) 45 Family Law Quarterly pp. 241-269

    Carol Rogerson and Rollie Thompson, "Complex Issues Bring Us Back to Basics: The SSAG Year in Review in B.C." (June 29, 2009), paper prepared for the CLE BC Family Law Conference 2009, Vancouver, B.C., July 9 & 10, 2009 (also published in (2009) 28 Canadian Family Law Quarterly at 263).

    Rollie Thompson, "All Guidelines All the Time: Spousal Support in Ontario 2009-10" (May 2010), paper prepared for the LSUC, Family Law Summit, 2010 (subsequently published in (2010) 29 Canadian Family Law Quarterly at 201).

    Rollie Thompson, "Forgotten? The SSAG Exceptions" (PDF), The Lawyers Weekly, Vol. 29, No. 45 (April 9, 2010)

    Rollie Thompson, "Following Fisher: Ontario Spousal Support Trends 2008-09" (May 25, 2009) paper prepared for the LSUC, Family Law Summit, 2009

    Rollie Thompson, “Spousal Support in Nova Scotia 2007-2008: Mostly Advisory Guidelines, Sometimes Not” (Dec., 2008) paper prepared for the Nova Scotia CBA Family Law Conference, Jan. 9, 2009

    Carol Rogerson, "The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines: Ontario Update" (Nov. 21, 2008), paper prepared for the L.S.U.C. Six Minute Family Lawyer Program, Dec. 3, 2008

    Carol Rogerson and Rollie Thompson,  "The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines Three and a Half Years Later" (June 16, 2008, revised Aug. 1, 2008)

    •  Complete Paper
    •  Appendix I: Case Summaries Appellate Cases, Sept. 12 2007 - July 10, 2008
    • Appendix II: Case Summaries Trial Decisions, Sept. 12 2007 - July 10, 2008
    • Appendix III: Case Summaries By Province, Sept. 12 2007 - July 10, 2008

    Carol Rogerson and Rollie Thompson, "Fisher and After:  The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines in Ontario" (May 28, 2008)

    Carol Rogerson and Rollie Thompson,  "The Advisory Guidelines Three Years Later", February 8, 2008

    Carol Rogerson and Rollie Thompson,  "The Advisory Guidelines 31 Months Later", Sept. 12, 2007 

    • Complete Paper
    • Appendix I: Appellate Decisions
    • Appendix II: Case Update, Apr. 19, 2007-Sept. 12, 2007
    • Appendix III: Case Update by Province, Apr. 19, 2007-Sept. 12, 2007

    Carol Rogerson, "Spousal Support in Ontario: A Brief Update" (Sept. 20, 2007)

    Carol Rogerson and Rollie Thompson, "The Spousal Support Guidelines in B.C.: The Next Generation", June 27, 2007

    Rollie Thompson: "The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines in the Courts of Nova Scotia, 2005-2007", April, 2007

    Carol Rogerson and Rollie Thompson,  "The Advisory Guidelines 27 Months Later", April 18, 2007 

    • Complete Paper
    • Appendix I: Appellate Decisions
    • Appendix II: Case Update, Oct. 5, 2006-April 18, 2007
    • Appendix III: Case Update by Province, Oct. 5, 2006-April 18, 2007
    Carol Rogerson and Rollie Thompson,  "The Advisory Guidelines 20 Months Later", October 5, 2006
    Carol Rogerson and Rollie Thompson,  "The Advisory Guidelines 17 Months Later", June 28, 2006.
    Rollie Thompson and Carol Rogerson, "The Advisory Guidelines 16 Months Later: Cases, Criticisms and Responses, Revisions"(Revised), June 6, 2006
  5. Articles on Spousal Support

    Carol Rogerson, "The Canadian Law of Spousal Support" (2004), 38 Family Law Quarterly 69 (PDF)