You may well be entitled to spousal maintenance.
What is spousal maintenance?
Spousal maintenance is financial support paid by a party to a marriage or de facto relationship to their former spouse/partner in circumstances where their former spouse/partner is unable to adequately support themselves.
Spousal maintenance is not automatic, and often is considered as part of an overall settlement of financial matters under the Family Law Act.
Urgent spousal maintenance
If you are in immediate need of financial assistance following the breakdown of the marriage or relationship, then you may be entitled to urgent spousal maintenance. The Family Law Courts may order urgent interim maintenance during the course of the proceedings until the proceedings are finalised.
How is spousal maintenance determined?
In deciding a maintenance application, the Family Law Courts consider:
- the needs of the applicant and the financial means of the respondent and the respondent’s capacity to pay
- the age and health of the respective parties
- their income, property and financial resources
- the ability of each party to work and their respective earning capacities
- what is a suitable standard of living and if the marriage or relationship has affected the applicant’s ability to earn an income and
- if children are involved, who the children live with and whether they are 18 years of age and whether the respondent pays child support in respect of the children as well.
Parties should attempt to reach agreement
It is necessary that both parties attempt to reach an agreement outside of court, before filing an application for spousal maintenance orders. When spousal maintenance applications are filed with either the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court, both parties are ordered to undergo “pre-action procedures”.
Beware: time limits apply
Applications for spousal maintenance must be made within 12 months of your divorce becoming final and within two years after the date of separation in the case of de facto couples.
Spousal maintenance orders generally continue until remarriage or death or if the recipient’s financial circumstances improve because of a change in their personal circumstances (for example, improved earning capacity or entering into a new relationship).
It is therefore important that when settling financial issues with your former spouse, that you also close off the possibility of a spousal maintenance claim being made at a later date.
Spousal maintenance is often misunderstood by lawyers and lay people alike and a potentially difficult area of law.
How we can help
If you think you are entitled to spousal maintenance, or have received notice of a claim for spousal maintenance from your former partner, we will be able to advise you about ways in which your rights may be protected without having to go to Court.
If you have a spousal maintenance issue, we urge you to give us a call on 8237 0559 to discuss your situation. The first 20 minute telephone consultation is absolutely FREE and no obligation.