Family Law
Four Things You Need to Know About Spousal Maintenance

Four Things You Need to Know About Spousal Maintenance

In Australia, both partners are very well protected by law in the event of a separation or divorce. If one partner doesn’t or is unable to work or has a significantly lower income, the court may rule that the other partner is responsible for paying spousal maintenance.

In general, this is designed to provide support for the person with the lower income. Spousal maintenance may be paid in a lump sum or at regular, pre-defined intervals, as required by the courts.

However, as family lawyers will tell you, spousal maintenance can be something that’s a little complicated and hard to understand. Because of this, we’ve put together the following list of the five most important things you have to know about spousal maintenance.

  1. The Court Will Consider Numerous Things

When making spousal maintenance adjudications, the courts will take a range of things into account. Most importantly is the income of the two people in question, along with their qualifications and ability to work. Other considerations include:

  • Children and whether either party is responsible for any dependents.
  • Any savings, superannuation or other assets either party has.
  • The health and age of both parties.
  • Child support and child support payments.

In addition, anything else considered relevant may be used by the courts when they make their decision.

  1. Applications Must Be Filed Within 12 Months

Another thing that a lot of people don’t realise is that they only have 12 months after divorce to file for a spousal maintenance application. Special permission may be granted if you fail to file within this time, but it wouldn’t be wise to rely on this.

If you have separated from a serious de facto relationship, the rules are a little different. In this case, you have up to two years to make your application. Again, special permission may be granted after this in rare circumstances.

  1. Spousal Maintenance Applications Aren’t Automatically Approved

Many people fall into the trap of assuming that their spousal maintenance applications will be automatically approved. This isn’t, never has been, and never will be the case. In fact, the courts take numerous things into account when making a decision on spousal maintenance applications, and a sizable percentage are rejected.

  1. There Are Different Ways for Spousal Maintenance to Be Paid

Now, spousal maintenance payments take a range of forms. In many cases, the courts will order one partner to pay a small, regular amount that’s designed to cover certain costs and/or living expenses. Some of the other forms spousal maintenance can take include:

  • A one-off lump-sum payment of a specified amount.
  • Regular payments of specified expenses, such as bills or insurance.
  • The provision of a vehicle, accommodation, and/or other items.

As you can imagine, it’s important to understand exactly what form your spousal maintenance is going to take to ensure it is complied with at all times.

Final Word

Spousal maintenance is commonly ordered by the courts following a divorce or separation. In this article, we’ve outlined a selection of things you should know about the topic

However, we also recommend speaking with a qualified family lawyer if you’re not sure about your requirements. They will be able to advise you and guide you through the entire divorce process and, trust us, the support will be welcome.