Spousal maintenance is important to understand, as many people will go through a separation in their lives.
In marriages and de facto relationships, it is not uncommon for one party to be the primary income earner and the other to have a smaller or reduced income for many reasons. Knowing what spousal maintenance is can be essential if you’re considering separation from your spouse or de facto partner.
In this article, we will explore the following subjects:
The concept of spousal maintenance
The process for obtaining spousal maintenance
Determining the potential amount of maintenance you may be entitled to
The relevance of spousal maintenance if you have no children
How Turnbull Hill Lawyers can help
What is spousal maintenance?
Spousal maintenance is a legal obligation that can be imposed on one spouse or de facto partner to provide financial support to their former partner after the breakdown of a marriage or de facto relationship. In Australia, spousal maintenance laws are governed by the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).
Spousal maintenance is separate from property settlement, which refers to the division of property and assets between former spouses or partners. Spousal maintenance aims to provide ongoing financial support to a former spouse or partner who cannot meet their reasonable expenses from their own income or resources.
How can I get spousal maintenance?
In order to be eligible for spousal maintenance in New South Wales, there are certain criteria that must be met.
Firstly, it is essential to establish a need for financial assistance. This means demonstrating that you don’t have enough money to meet your reasonable living expenses. For example, you may be in part-time employment and have the care of small children, and so your income is not enough to pay the mortgage and your living costs each week.
In addition, it’s essential to establish that the other party has the capacity to pay. You will need to show that your former spouse or partner has enough income to pay for their own expenses and then has enough income left over to assist you in meeting yours.
If you agree that maintenance should be paid to one party, then you can document this agreement using a Consent Order or Financial Agreement.
Spousal maintenance orders might be made on interim orders or final orders. Interim orders are made for a temporary period and are usually intended to provide support while the parties are awaiting the outcome of property settlement proceedings. Final orders, on the other hand, provide a long-term financial arrangement between the parties.
You should seek legal advice before making any court applications or agreements in relation to spousal maintenance.
How much maintenance am I entitled to?
There is no set formula for calculating spousal maintenance. It is calculated on a case-by-case basis and is not automatically granted.
The court will consider a range of factors, including:
The age, health and earning capacity of both parties;
The length of the relationship;
The standard of living during the relationship;
The care and support of any children; and
Whether either party has any conditions that impact on their earning capacity.
Can I still receive maintenance if we have no children?
It is possible to get spousal maintenance even if you don’t have children.
In Australia, the eligibility for spousal maintenance is not dependent on whether you have children.
The financial needs of the spouse or de facto partner are the main factor in deciding whether spousal maintenance is payable.
Suppose one partner has a higher income, or greater financial resources, than the other after separation or divorce. In that case, the person with the lower income or resources may be eligible for spousal maintenance to meet their reasonable living expenses.
However, it’s important to note that spousal maintenance is not automatically granted just because one party has a lower income or resources. The court will consider all relevant circumstances in your case.
How Turnbull Hill Lawyers can help
If you need spousal maintenance or are concerned, you might be liable to pay spousal maintenance we can help.
You should remember the following:
Spousal maintenance is the financial support from one spouse or de facto partner to the other after separation or divorce.
Eligibility for spousal maintenance is based on financial need and capacity to pay.
Spousal maintenance is determined on a case-by-case basis and is not automatically granted.
Spousal maintenance is separate from property settlement; and
You should seek legal advice before making any applications or agreements related to spousal maintenance.
At Turnbull Hill Lawyers, we have a team of trusted Family Law experts who can provide you with advice and representation concerning spousal maintenance. Please get in touch with us today.