Facts about spousal maintenance
when a marital or de facto relationship ends, sometimes one partner faces a serious economic disadvantage. a former husband or wife who stayed home to raise children made it possible for the other spouse to work, to earn promotions, and to establish a career.
The parent who stayed at home sacrificed those same opportunities in order to act as a homemaker or childcare provider.
The obligation to support a partner in a marriage or in a de facto relationship does not necessarily end when the parties separate. An award of spouse maintenance recognizes the unfairness of leaving a former husband or wife with little or no income after that person spent years providing services in the home for no compensation. A divorce or separation should assure that an ex-wife or ex-husband is not deprived of a decent standard of living while the other partner in the relationship enjoys the healthy income that the homemaker’s efforts made possible.
What is spouse maintenance?
Also known as alimony or spouse support, maintenance is financial support that one member of a dissolved relationship provides to the other. It can be paid as a lump sum or as periodic payments that continue for a fixed period of time or until the person receiving the payments dies or remarries. It can also be a factor that the court considers in a property settlement by awarding a former spouse a larger share of property in lieu of ordering maintenance payments.
When a relationship ends, the partners to the relationship can use mediation and negotiation to decide whether spouse maintenance will be paid and, if so, the form and amount of that payment. If negotiation fails to produce an agreement, either party can apply to the court for an award of maintenance. That application must usually be made within 12 months after a final divorce is granted. In a de facto relationship, the application must be made within 2 years after the relationship breaks down.
- The applicant’s financial needs.
- The other party’s ability to pay, including financial obligations.
- The age and health of both parties.
- Whether the parties have children.
- Where the children are living, if they are minors.
- The applicant’s education, work experience, and ability to find employment.
- The standard of living the parties enjoyed when they were living together.
- The contributions the applicant made to the relationship.
Unmarried couples who separate after a relationship breaks down may be eligible to seek an award of maintenance. The law applies to couples whether they are in a same-sex or opposite-sex relationship and to partners in a relationship who are married to someone else.
In most places, the Family Law Courts can order one ex-partner to support the other if they lived together on a “genuine domestic basis” (as if they were married) for at least two years. Family Law Courts have that power in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory, Norfolk Island, Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and South Australia. The Family Court of Western Australia has similar authority.
Disclaimer : This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice. It is prudent to obtain legal advice from a family lawyer.