What is spouse maintenance?
Spouse maintenance, (known as alimony in the USA) is a payment made by one spouse to the other to provide for their financial support. This is separate from child support. Although called ‘spouse’ maintenance it is not limited to married people. De facto partners may also apply for maintenance orders under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).
Can I apply?
You can make an application for spousal support in circumstances when you are unable to support yourself adequately without the assistance of your former partner.
The partner seeking the Order has the onus of proving the following:
- Financial Need (which does not take into consideration the payment of a welfare benefit) and;
- The other partner’s ability to pay (‘capacity’).
What does the Court consider when making a spouse maintenance order?
The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) sets out various factors the Court considers in determining whether maintenance should be paid. Some factors which are usually relevant include:
- The age and state of health of each of the parties;
- The income, property and financial resource of each of the parties;
- The eligibility of either party to claim a pension, allowance or benefit and the rate of such pension;
- If either party is cohabiting with another person, the financial circumstances relating to that cohabitation.
What kinds of orders can the Court make for spouse maintenance?
Spouse maintenance orders can take various forms:
- Urgent interim periodic payments
- Lump sum interim payment
- Lump sum final payment
- By way of transfer of property
- Periodic payments by way of final order for a defined time
If you require assistance with applying for spouse maintenance or are experiencing a dispute relating to spouse maintenance, give us a call and talk to our Accredited Specialist Family Lawyer on 02 8197 0105.