It’s designed to ensure that people can meet reasonable expenses if they cannot adequately support themselves. The question of “what is spousal maintenance” often arises during divorce proceedings, and it’s essential to understand the legal framework and individual circumstances that determine eligibility.
Does Maintenance Apply in a De Facto Relationship?
Yes, in Australia, spousal maintenance can apply to de facto relationships. The Family Law Act includes provisions for both married and de facto partners, recognising the financial obligations that may exist between parties even if they were never legally married.
The same principles that apply to married couples generally apply to de facto relationships, considering factors like financial need, ability to pay, and living standards during the relationship.
When Can I Receive (Or When Do I Have To Pay) Maintenance?
Spousal maintenance can be sought or required when one partner cannot meet their reasonable financial needs and the other can.
This might occur due to age, health, caring responsibilities, or a lack of employment opportunities.
Applications for spousal maintenance must typically be made within 12 months of a divorce becoming final or two years after a de facto relationship ends.
Do I Need a Family Lawyer To Calculate Spousal Maintenance?
While hiring a family lawyer to calculate spousal maintenance is not mandatory, it’s often advisable.
Australian law considers various factors in determining care, such as income, assets, financial resources, and individual needs.
A family lawyer with expertise in Australian family law can provide valuable insights, negotiate on your behalf, and ensure all legal requirements are met.
What Does the Court Consider When Making a Decision?
When determining “what is spousal maintenance” in a specific case, the court considers factors such as:
– The age and health of both parties
– The income, property, and financial resources of both parties
– The ability of the payer to support themselves while paying maintenance
– The recipient’s ability to gain employment
– The standard of living during the relationship
– Any child support responsibilities
How Long Will the Spousal Payments Last?
Spousal maintenance payments may be temporary or permanent, depending on the circumstances.
Quick maintenance might be awarded while a divorce is pending or for a specific period after separation.
Permanent care may be granted in cases where long-term financial support is necessary.
Do I Still Receive Spousal Maintenance if I Start a New Relationship?
Starting a new relationship does not automatically terminate spousal maintenance under Australian law.
However, it may lead to a reassessment of financial needs and the ability to support oneself.
If the court determines that the new relationship significantly alters the economic circumstances, it may modify or terminate the maintenance payments.
Helping Our Clients: What Is Spousal Maintenance?
A businessman came to our law firm concerned about spousal maintenance during his divorce.
His wife had been a stay-at-home parent, and he was a successful entrepreneur. We explained the concept of spousal maintenance under Australian law and assessed both parties’ financial situations.
Through careful negotiation, we agreed on temporary maintenance, supporting his wife as she pursued opportunities to reenter the workforce.
The agreement was structured to decrease as she became financially independent.
This case highlighted the complexities of spousal maintenance and the importance of empathy and strategic planning.
Our client’s willingness to provide fair support led to an amicable resolution, allowing both parties to move forward with dignity.
Engage A Family Lawyer
Spousal maintenance is a multifaceted aspect of family law in Australia that requires careful consideration of various factors.
Whether you’re seeking maintenance or obligated to pay, understanding “what is spousal maintenance” and how it applies to your situation is crucial.
Engaging a family lawyer with expertise in Australian law can provide personalised guidance, ensuring the process is handled fairly, with empathy, and strategic insight.
Ultimately, spousal maintenance is about achieving a balanced and equitable resolution that allows both parties to move forward with financial stability and dignity.
It’s a testament to the legal system’s commitment to upholding the principles of justice and compassion in the often complex landscape of family relationships.
The founder of the firm, Silvio is a Family Law Specialist Accredited by the Law Institute of Victoria, Accredited FindLaw Feature Writer in Family Law and is a Founding Member of the Collaborative Law Committee of the Law Institute of Victoria.
Director of Melbourne Family Lawyers, Hayder manages the practice and oversees the running of all of the files in the practice. Hayder has an astute eye for case strategy and running particularly complex matters in the family law system.