Spousal maintenance can be awarded to make one person financially support their former partner following the breakdown of their relationship. There are many factors that are considered and it is important to get the right advice early from an experienced family lawyer on how to deal with these issues.
The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (the Act) is the law that deals with divorce, parenting, property and maintenance issues in Australia. The Act is complicated and it deals with both people having a responsibility to support and maintain each other as far as they can.
Spousal maintenance is specifically there to assist a spouse or ex de facto partner if they cannot meet their expenses from their own income or assets after divorce or separation. It is designed to allow that person to be able to receive some support from their former partner so that they can re-train, upskill or re-enter the workforce to be able to adequately support themselves moving forward.
There are certain criteria that a person has to establish before they are eligible to receive spousal maintenance. Some of these criteria are:
- They are caring for a child or children from the relationship under the age of 18.
- They are unable to adequately support themselves
Often spousal maintenance is not something that someone will agree to pay and will often require an application to the Court to determine a party’s rights. A Judge will then need to consider aspects about both parties’ financial information, including reading your Financial Statements, before making a decision about the amount (if any) that needs to be paid and the length of time the payments need to go for.
Some things that the Court looks at are a person’s:
- ability to work;
- standard of living; and
- whether the marriage/relationship has affected your ability to work.
The obligation to financially support the person can exist after the separation or divorce and depends on the individual circumstances. Both parties have a duty to support and maintain each other as much as they can.
There is also an ability to have the Court urgently consider your need for maintenance and this is often raised when one person has no access to funds and is not able to support themselves. If these circumstances apply to you then you should contact one of our family lawyers today so that you are not left suffering.
Time limits do apply for spousal maintenance applications. Applications can be submitted outside of the timeframe, but not always granted. The time frames are as follows:
- for married couples – within 12 months of the divorce becoming final.
- for de facto couples – within 2 years of the breakdown of your de facto relationship.
If you are considering a separation or are considering making an application for spousal maintenance or have received a claim then you should obtain the correct legal advice. Failing to respond correctly and not preparing can mean that the application is adjourned or if you are being asked to pay spousal maintenance, that more spousal maintenance will be ordered than you can actually afford to pay.
Our family lawyers will help you by assessing the claim and ensuring that your matter is presented in the most professional and organised manner to give it the best chance of success.
We understand the crucial elements of family law and are also a professional legal team.
Call one of our family lawyers to discuss your matter today or complete our enquiry form here.