If you’re going through or thinking about going through a divorce or de facto relationship break up then you need to make sure that you’re aware of spousal maintenance. In some cases, one partner may have to pay spousal maintenance to their ex, even after the separation is finalized.

If you’re not sure what spousal maintenance is and why you need to be aware of it then you should speak to your local family lawyer for more information. This article will give you a brief overview, but shouldn’t be taken as professional information.

What is spousal maintenance?

If a couple’s separation leads to a situation where one one party can’t support themselves financially then the other party may be required to pay some form of spousal maintenance.

Situations like this usually arise when only one partner in the couple worked while they were together – for example, where one partner worked and the other looked after children.

Spousal maintenance comes in two forms: lump sum payments and regular periodic payments. You may be told to pay either, depending on your situation.

It’s also important to note that spousal maintenance and child support are two different things and that both can have to be paid.

When am I entitled to spousal maintenance?

It can be difficult to prove that you should be getting spousal maintenance. Generally, your claims will only be approved if you can genuinely prove that you can’t support yourself with your current income or savings, even though you’re trying.

When you apply for spousal maintenance you will have to prove two things:

  • That you can’t support yourself.
  • That your former partner has the assets or income to be reasonably expected to pay you.

You will usually only be awarded spousal maintenance payments if there is a big difference in the income between you and your former partner. Again, your family lawyer will be able to help you decide whether or not you should be applying for maintenance payments or not.

How do I apply for spousal maintenance?

All applications for spousal maintenance payments have to be made to the relevant courts – which will depend on where you live in Australia. They will usually be dealt with alongside property settlements. The court will consider a range of things, including:

  • The ability of both people to work and earn a reliable income.
  • The potential income and financial resources of both parties.
  • The definition of a ‘suitable standard of living’.
  • Whether there are children involved and, if so, which parent they live with.
  • How the relationship might have affected either parties ability to work.

As you can see, spousal maintenance claims aren’t simple, and you should always seek professional advice before presenting your case to the courts.

Final Word

If you’re considering applying for or need to defend yourself against a spousal maintenance claim then the best thing you can do is employ a family lawyer. They will be able to help you build a case and sort out the relevant paperwork.