Splitting assets and finances after a separation or divorce can be difficult – especially if one partner is financially vulnerable or unable to support themselves. In those cases spousal maintenance may be required by the family court.
Let’s take a closer look at what exactly spousal maintenance is and what it means for you.
What is spousal maintenance in Australia?
Spousal maintenance is financial support paid by one spouse (or ex-spouse) to another who is unable to ‘meet their own reasonable expenses from their personal income or assets’. These payments usually continue for a limited period of time until the other party is able to get back on their feet financially – but in some cases financial maintenance can continue indefinitely.
You don’t need to be married and divorce to pay spousal maintenance – people in de facto relationships may also be required to pay in a relationship breakdown if their relationship meets certain requirements.
How does the court decide?
First of all, it’s important to note that you do not need to go to court to reach an agreement around spousal maintenance and property settlement. In fact, it may be easier to settle outside of court by arranging a consent order or binding financial agreement with the help of an experienced family lawyer.
If that’s not possible the court will consider the following when deciding whether spousal maintenance is appropriate:
- Your age, health and ability to work.
- The income, property and financial resources of both partners.
- What a suitable standard of living may be.
- Whether or not the marriage has affected your ability to earn an income (i.e. if you stayed at home to care for children).
The court will also take into account whether one parent is caring for children under 18 when considering spousal maintenance. The amount of maintenance will depend on the above factors, as well as what the other partner can reasonably afford to pay.
How does spousal maintenance work?
Spousal maintenance is separate from property settlement, but it is calculated with property settlement in mind. Parties to a divorce have 12 months to apply for spousal maintenance from the date of the divorce, whereas de facto couples have 24 months.
It is usually paid in the form of monthly monetary transfers, but can also come in the form of cash payments, payment of expenses such as mortgages or insurance and even a lump sum.
Get help from an experienced Melbourne family lawyer
Unfortunately divorce can be financially and emotionally taxing for both parties involved. For that reason it’s a great idea to seek advice from an experienced family lawyer as soon as your divorce begins.
The team here at Testart Family Lawyers can help ensure the best possible outcome for your property settlement and spousal maintenance. We can provide legal honest advice, mediation between you and your partner and help you prepare to attend Family Court if necessary.
From the first call to resolution of your issue – we’ll take care of you. Get in touch with Testart Family Lawyers today to get the expert advice you need and book a free initial consultation.