Will you have to pay spousal maintenance?

Law Blog

Spousal maintenance, or alimony, is not granted automatically for a relationship breakdown. The court considers whether the relationship has limited the ability of one partner to earn an income, the age and health of both parties, the financial resources of both parties and any expectations of financial support within the marriage in line with the provisions in the Family Law Act 1975. This article will answer some questions you may have about spousal support.

What about if you weren't married?

De facto relationships can still be covered under the family court decision making processes on spousal maintenance, provided that the de facto relationship was more than 2 years in duration. Applications for spousal support need to be made within 24 months of the relationship breaking down. This includes same sex de facto relationships.

If you are entering a de facto relationship but do not wish to be considered as being in a legally binding de facto relationship, you can enter a binding financial agreement detailing property division and support if the relationship is to breakdown. It is important for both parties to obtaining independent legal advice before signing a binding financial agreement.

Shouldn't their new partner support them?

In general if the partners enter into new marriages or de facto relationships, then spousal support usually stops or is altered in line with a change in financial circumstances. Child support for any children from your relationship is not altered by new relationships of the parents. 

If you feel your partner's financial circumstances (or your own) have changed, you can apply to the court to get the spousal maintenance amounts altered.

How much will you need to pay?

Unlike child support, there is no fixed formula for spousal maintenance. The court will consider the earning capacity of both parties (whether it is being exercised currently or not) and how the marriage has affected the earning capacity of both partners (for example if one of the partners gave up their career to support the other's career, and if one of the partners contributed to the other's career success with their actions). Additionally the length of the marriage is considered as earning capacity is adversely affected by longer periods out of the workforce. The court will also consider the current lifestyle the partners are enjoying when determining the level of spousal support.

If you currently contemplating a divorce and wish to know how much spousal maintenance you may be entitled to or may be required you should meet with family lawyer like Charles Cooper Lawyers to discuss the best option for your circumstances.


24 February 2015

Fact And Fiction: Accurate Information About The Law

I love reading novels that involve complex legal cases. I particularly enjoy those that are told from the defendant's viewpoint, but any well-written legal fiction will capture my imagination. My interest comes from being a court stenographer when I was much younger and seeing the dramas in real-life! Nothing irritates me more than a novel which includes legal fallacies. Fiction or not, I am a stickler for accuracy. I like to do research and check if a court case in one of my novels could play out in real life. It has become quite a hobby and I spend a lot of time in the law section of my university's library. I'm sure there are other people who are interested in the law for various reasons and I would like to share some of the knowledge I've gained. I hope you find my blog fascinating and worthwhile.