In Australia, divorces and serious separations are governed by a comprehensive selection of laws. In general, the courts will strive to deliver a fair deliberation on divorce cases, which can sometimes involve one partner being responsible for the support of the other.
This is called spousal maintenance, and it’s something you absolutely need to understand if you’re working through a separation. In the rest of this article, we’re going to look at everything you need to know about this complicated legal topic.
What Is Spousal Maintenance?
To keep things simple, spousal maintenance is designed to ensure both parties are able to maintain a comfortable living situation following a divorce. It can be paid in a number of forms, including:
- As a one-off lump sum payment as ordered by the court.
- As regular weekly or fortnightly payments.
- As bill or amenity payments covering periodic costs.
- By providing certain items or things the other party needs to live.
As you can imagine, spousal maintenance cases can become extremely complicated. Because of this, it’s best to talk to a family lawyer, such as Robinson Lawyers, about the subject if you’re unsure about anything or need long-term legal advice.
When Is Spousal Maintenance Applicable?
In general, spousal maintenance is designed for situations where one party isn’t able to comfortably maintain their life following a separation, but the other is. There are numerous examples of this, and other issues such as child custody can be taken into account as well.
Below are a few examples of when spousal maintenance could apply:
- When your ex partner isn’t able to support themselves following your separation due to a very low income.
- If your ex partner is required to look after your children or other dependents and therefore can’t work.
- If you have a significantly higher income than your ex partner when you separate.
On top of this, spousal maintenance may be awarded on the grounds of physical, mental or age-related disabilities that prevent the other party from working. The courts can also make special decisions for any other compelling cases.
How Do The Courts Consider Spousal Maintenance Applications?
There are numerous things that the courts consider when working through a spousal maintenance claim. Some of these include:
- The income and capacity to build a larger income of both parties.
- Whether either party is responsible for the care of any dependent parties.
- How long your relationship was and how your finances were treated.
- How much each party generally contributed to the relationship’s financial resources.
- Whether or not there are any financial agreements in place.
- Any social security or other payments either party may be eligible for.
On top of these, there are numerous other things that the courts will take into account. In general, though, they will take the overall wellbeing and financial stability of each party as the most important factors.
If you’re working through a divorce or separation, but don’t know anything about spousal maintenance, you need to do some research. The chances are that you will have to enlist the services of a family lawyer if your case gets taken to court, and it can help if you’re familiar with the subject in advance.
Don’t worry too much though if you’re not – your local family law firm will be able to help!