Spousal Maintenance

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Spousal maintenance is the common term used to describe financial support paid by one party to another following the breakdown of a relationship. People often talk of 'alimony' but that is a term coined primarily for US television dramas. It is payable to the party that is not adequately able to support themselves, by the party who has demonstrated a capacity to pay that support. It is separate to any child support.

If you are in need of financial support after the breakdown of a relationship, then you should obtain advice from a family lawyer about whether you would be eligible for spousal maintenance

How does the court decide whether spousal maintenance should be paid?

The court considers both the needs of the applicant for maintenance (that is, the person who cannot support themselves) and the other party's (the Respondent's) capacity to pay.

Maintenance can be ordered either as an urgent payment, as ongoing periodic payments or as a lump-sum, depending on the parties' circumstances together with the income and assets available to satisfy the maintenance order.

The same factors that the court considers when looking at the parties’ future needs are also considered when deciding if maintenance is payable.

Are there time limits for applying for spousal maintenance?

If you were married, applications for spouse maintenance must be made within 12 months of your divorce becoming final.

If you were in a de facto relationship, your application must be made within 24 months of the breakdown of your de facto relationship.

Can I still receive spousal maintenance if I start a new relationship?

You are no longer entitled to maintenance if you remarry unless the court orders otherwise.

If you commence a de facto relationship, the court will consider the financial relationship between you and your new de facto partner before considering whether you are able to support yourself adequately.  

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