What is spousal maintenance?
Spousal maintenance (or maintenance for de facto couples) is financial support paid by one spouse to the other when the other spouse is unable to support themselves adequately and the other spouse is reasonably able to pay such financial support to the other spouse. Maintenance can be paid in form of ongoing periodic payments or a lump sum payment.
Who is entitled to spousal maintenance?
A party to a marriage or a de facto relationship is not automatically entitled to maintenance. They need to establish they are unable to support themselves adequately because at least one of the following three (3) reasons apply:
- Because they have the care and responsibility of children under the age of 18; or
- Because of their age, physical or mental incapacity they are prevented from gaining appropriate employment; or
- For any other adequate reason.
How does the Court determine how much spousal maintenance I will receive?
The Court assesses both parties’ financial circumstances such as their respective incomes, property, and financial resources and their necessary financial commitments in determining what maintenance one party is able to pay to the other.
Are there any time limits when applying for spousal maintenance?
- In the case of married couples you can apply for spousal maintenance within 12 months of the date your Divorce Order takes effect. You may be eligible to apply outside the 12 month period in certain circumstances if the Court grants you permission. If you have not been divorced as yet, you can apply for spousal maintenance at any time.
- In the case of de facto couples, you can bring an application for maintenance within 2 years of the date of separation. In some circumstances, you may be eligible to bring such an application outside the above 2 year period if the Court grants you permission.
If you have any other specific questions or require advice on spousal maintenance, please contact Anthi Balafas, Accredited Specialist in Family Law.