Australian Family Lawyers

Wondering about spousal maintenance?

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Maintenance is financial support payable by one partner/former partner to the other. The family Law Act provides for maintenance for  both marriage and de facto relationships.

Your spousal maintenance lawyer

The topic of maintenance often arises at separation if one party is unable to support themselves.

It is complex and often an emotional topic – for you if you are seeking it or for you if you are  being asked to pay it.

When a relationship breaks down you must adjust to a new way of living – with the added pressures of living on a single income or no income or being self supporting if you are paying maintenance.

Concerns include how long the payments might last, what happens if it can no longer afford to be paid  or is maintenance genuinely required? For the party paying it -how liable are they are and what risks do they face are frequent and sensible concerns.

AFL can advise and represent you so you understand your rights and obligations and options in your situation to minimize risk.

Spousal maintenance fundamentals

  1. Maintenance is not automatic – it can be paid if one party is unable to support themselves and the other party can reasonably afford to pay it.

  2. Maintenance is considered once the terms of the property settlement are known in each case.

  3. Maintenance is generally confined to a specific amount of payable for a specified time.

  4. You can reach an out of court agreement about it or commence proceedings seeking an order for or to vary an existing maintenance order. You will need evidence about your need and capacity to pay it.

  5. The court will consider a range of factors including your age, health, and what is a suitable standard of living in deciding maintenance payments.

  6. The extent of maintenance payments will depend on what the other party can afford to pay once they pay their own reasonable living expenses.

  7. There are ways to minimize the risk of non payment for the recipient and overpayment for the paying party.

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Commonly asked questions about maintenance

You are eligible to apply for maintenance at any time after you have separated from your partner. If you were married you must make any application for spousal maintenance within 12 months of your divorce being finalised; de facto partners have two years from the breakdown of their relationship to apply. 

The court will consider a number of factors including: 

  • your age, health, income, and ability to work;

  • your financial resources and what is a suitable standard of living, and

  • if the marriage/partnership has affected your ability to earn an income.

Every case is different and it is important to seek legal advice if you are going through the process of seeking  maintenance, or if a relationship is ending and you think you may be required to make spousal maintenance payments.

You will receive maintenance payments if you are unable to support yourself following the breakdown of a marriage or de facto partnership. Similarly, if your financial situation changes your right to payments may end. Your right to regular payments of maintenance will usually end in various circumstances including if:

  • You remarry or enter a new de facto relationship where your financial situation improves;

  • You no longer have to care for children in the same capacity; or

  • If your ability to earn a wage improves. 

  • On payment of the sum to be paid or the period of time in which the payments were to be paid.

No you do not but the amount of the settlement is considered.

In some instances applications can be made but like any court application there are risks and benefits in doing so.

About Australian Family Lawyers

Our team of dedicated spousal maintenance lawyers represent you and fight for your rights seeking the appropriate outcome following a divorce or separation. Let us represent you in your matter and put yourself in supportive and experienced hands.

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