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Spousal maintenance is where ongoing financial support is paid by one former spouse or partner to the other. There are limited circumstances that give rise to an entitlement to receive (or obligation to pay) spousal maintenance, generally pending a property settlement being completed.
Spousal maintenance is complex and involves many factors
Generally, spousal maintenance will only be considered in circumstances where:-
- The reasonable living expenses of one party exceed their income; and
- The income of the other party exceeds their reasonable living expenses.
The payment of spousal maintenance will only be considered if both of the above tests are met, that is, that one party has a genuine need and the other party has capacity to pay spousal maintenance. It is irrelevant whether the parties were married or in a de facto relationship. The same test applies to both situations.
The steps taken by each person immediately after separation will have important consequences as to whether spousal maintenance will be payable. This includes consideration as to whether the party in need is able to obtain employment, and whether the payment would be reasonable.
Spousal maintenance can be paid under a Court Order or by a private agreement between parties. Spousal maintenance may be payable for a short amount of time, or may be an ongoing obligation for a longer period. Any claim for spousal maintenance must carefully consider both parties financial circumstances. You can read more about how this is considered in our article Spousal Maintenance and Managing Your Finances Post Separation.
Spousal maintenance is a complex aspect of family law, and you need to seek advice from an experienced family lawyer should you consider spousal maintenance to be relevant in your matter. It is crucial that you obtain legal advice as early as possible. Please contact our office should you wish to discuss spousal maintenance with one of our experienced family lawyers.
Spousal maintenance and child support
Spousal maintenance is not child support. Child support is paid for the benefit of children, whereas spousal maintenance is paid to support a party in need of financial support. This can be in addition to child support.
The payment of child support is a relevant consideration when determining whether spousal maintenance is appropriate. However, this is just one consideration. It is possible to receive (or pay) both child support and spousal maintenance.