If you’re divorcing, or separating from your de facto spouse, you may be required to pay (or entitled to receive) spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance is often sought when a spouse cannot support themselves adequately on their own and the other spouse has the income to do so.
Read on to learn more or speak to one of our divorce lawyers for more information.
- Property settlements and de facto property settlements
- Consent orders
- Marriage separation
What is spousal maintenance in Australia?
Spousal maintenance is similar to child support, but for the spouse rather than the children. It assists them to meet their reasonable costs of living, such as groceries, utilities and essential medical costs. You can receive spousal support maintenance whether you were married or in a de facto relationship. It can be paid periodically or as a lump sum, depending on the circumstances.
It’s also important to note that spousal support is not an automatic right. But if one spouse is in need of financial support and it can be established that the other has a means or is able to provide that support, then an application to the court can be made.
What is the purpose of spousal maintenance?
Under the Family Law Act 1975, the purpose of spousal maintenance is to support an ex-spouse if there was a substantial difference in the incomes between both spouses (at the date of separation)
It is also designed to support the spouse that took extended leave from the workforce to raise children of the relationship.
What determines spousal maintenance?
While there is no prescribed formula for determining spousal support, the court does take the following into consideration:
- The income, property and financial resources of both spouses, and their mental/physical capacity to gain employment
- If the marriage/relationship impacted a spouse’s earning capacity
- Age and health of both spouses
- Whether either spouse cares for a child under 18 years of age
- What is considered a suitable standard of living
What qualifies someone for spousal support?
You are entitled to claim for spousal support if you are unable to financially support yourself because:
- You care for a child of the relationship who is under 18 years of age and;
- You took significant leave from the workforce because of this
- Your age, physical or mental incapacity limits your ability to gain employment
- Any other adequate reason
How long do you pay spousal support?
There are no time limits for how long spousal support needs to be paid. However, it can stop or change depending on the following factors:
- The spouse receiving the financial support remarries or starts a de facto relationship
- False evidence or material facts were hidden when the order was made
- The amount is no longer adequate or proper
- The financial circumstances of each party have changed
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