What is spousal maintenance?
Following separation, a Spousal Maintenance Order can be made by the Court for one party to provide financial assistance to the other party.
Usually this is a periodic payment (weekly/fortnightly/monthly). Sometimes it can be a lump sum payment.
The court will only make an order for spousal maintenance if:
- The party seeking the maintenance is unable to support themselves without a pension, and
- The other party has the capacity to pay the maintenance.
The inability of a person to support themselves has to be:
- By reason of caring for a child of the marriage who is less than 18 years old;
- By reason of age or physical or mental incapacity for appropriate employment; or
- “for any other adequate reason”.
A spousal maintenance order can be made in respect of former married and de facto couples.
An urgent claim for spousal maintenance can be made to the Court in certain circumstances.
A Spousal Maintenance Order will automatically end in certain circumstances e.g. if the party receiving it remarries.
What the Court considers when making a spousal maintenance order
In considering an application for spousal maintenance, the court will have regard to any relevant matter referred to in s75 (2) of the Family Law Act (or s.90SF(3) in the case of a de facto relationship) which includes:-
- The age and health of the parties;
- The capacity of the parties for appropriate employment;
- The property and financial resources of the parties;
- If the marriage has affected one parties ability to earn an income;
- If there are children to maintain;
- The commitments of each of the parties that are necessary to enable the party to support himself/herself;
- What a suitable standard of living would be for the party applying for the maintenance;
- If either party is cohabiting with another person – the financial circumstances relating to the cohabitation.
You have 12 months from the date of a Divorce Order to make an application to the Court for Spousal Maintenance.
You have 2 years from the date your de facto relationship ended to make an application to the Court for Spousal Maintenance.
At Catherine Henry Lawyers we pride ourselves on obtaining the best possible outcome for our clients so that you can move on with certainty about your financial future.
*This information is supplied as general advice only. For expert advice relating to your specific family law issue, contact one of our experienced and professional family law solicitors on 02 4929 3995 or at email@example.com