Spousal Maintenance is a form of financial support given from one spouse/de facto partner to another spouse/de facto partner to assist them with their reasonable living expenses.
Under the Family Law Act 1975 (as amended) a party to a marriage or de facto relationship is liable to maintain the other party to the extent that the first-mentioned party is reasonably able to do so. A party to a marriage or de facto relationship is liable to maintain the other, if and only if that other party is unable to support himself or herself adequately whether by reason of having the care and control of a child of the marriage who has not attained the age of 18 years, by reason of age or physical or mental incapacity for appropriate gainful employment, or for some other adequate reason. Spousal maintenance payments are separate to child support payments and property settlement.
If the separated parties are able to reach agreement in relation to the payment of spousal maintenance, this can be recorded formally as a Binding Financial Agreement setting out the terms of the agreement including the term of the agreement, whether the payments are periodic or lump sum payments and so on. If the party that is liable to maintain the other, refuses to pay spousal maintenance an application can be made to the Court for urgent or interim spousal maintenance. An application for urgent spousal maintenance can be made on the basis that financial support is needed on an urgent basis. Urgent spousal maintenance is to provide emergency funding in those cases where the Court is unable to determine immediately what order should be made. An application can also be made for interim spousal maintenance, which is maintenance paid pending a final property settlement. It is also possible to seek a final spousal maintenance order which provide for ongoing payments.
There are a number of factors the Court takes into account when determining whether a party is entitled to receive spousal maintenance including:
- Income, property, financial resources and debt
- Age and health
- Income earning capacity
- What is considered to be a suitable standard of living
- Whether the children live with you or your former spouse.
If you would like more information in relation to spousal maintenance contact us on (08) 8227 1970 to make an appointment with one of our family law solicitors.