Oxford Partners Lawyers provide professional legal advice for spousal & child maintenance
In some circumstances, you may be entitled to spousal or child maintenance. The court will look at many factors when considering if you are eligible for spousal maintenance, these include the income of your partner or spouse and their assets and liabilities. They will also look at your ability to work, your health, your assets and liabilities and any other factors that might be stopping you from working.
Put simply, spousal maintenance is financial support that is paid to a former marital partner in the event that they cannot support themselves and/or a dependant under the age of 18. Similar agreements may be applicable in cases of de facto relationships. However, there will be different factors to be considered in terms of eligibility.
Alimony and spousal maintenance actually refer to the same thing, though slightly different eligibility criteria may be in place for each based on location. Alimony as a term is often preferred in the United States, whilst spousal maintenance tends to be more widely used in Australia. So, when working within Australia, spousal maintenance will almost always be the working term.
When deciding on whether a person is eligible for spousal maintenance, there are multiple factors that a court will need to consider. These factors will be considered for both parties, and include:
The living status of dependants under the age of 18 will also be considered in this decision.
Spousal Maintenance can be quite stressful and complicated, therefore, obtaining professional legal advice earlier in the process can save you time, money and relationships along the way. Oxford Partners Lawyers are able to act in both the preventive and the contentious sphere and will try to resolve your matter through negotiation (if possible) before going to trial.
In order to receive maintenance from your partner, under the Family Law Act, you must demonstrate that:
When handling the process of spousal support claims, we at Oxford Partners will help you to protect yourself, your assets & your income while working towards a resolution. Our aim is to achieve an outcome that meets the needs and requirements of both parties in as calm and productive a process as the situation allows.
Whether you’re looking for sound advice or effective strategies when working through the spousal maintenance claims process, it’s best to have the support of an experienced family lawyer. Our team takes the time to understand your case while helping you come to a bespoke solution that is suited to the needs of all parties.
Often referred to as ‘alimony’, spousal maintenance involves financially supporting a spouse before or after legal separation or divorce. It’s typically a monthly payment made by the party possessing a consistent income, in order to support a spouse who may have been reliant on that party’s income prior to legal separation or divorce . Spousal maintenance is usually discussed during the process of finalising a separation agreement.
Any individual who has separated from or divorced their spouse, may still be eligible to receive spousal maintenance if they can prove that they lack the earning capacity to care for themselves, or for any children under the age of 18. You may also be eligible for spousal maintenance if you are unable to seek employment due to carer responsibilities of pre-existing medical conditions. It’s also imperative that you claim for spousal maintenance within a year of separation or divorce, as a year following separation or divorce finalisation are Victoria’s state time limitations on an individual’s eligibility for spousal maintenance claims.
Just as any other family law proceeding, being prepared for Family Court when it comes to a spousal maintenance claim is incredibly important in ensuring proceedings run smoothly and the interests of both parties are accurately represented. It is essential to bring bank account statements, tax returns, superannuation statements, asset valuations, any past documentation related to inheritances or other financial assets claimed prior to the separation, and other documentation outlining the estimated costs of the child support or spousal maintenance you are looking to claim.
Spousal maintenance is calculated in a similar fashion to child maintenance, or child support, in the sense that Family Court proceedings will generally look at each spouse’s employment history alongside their current state of employment, as well as their separate finances and earning capacities and their own individual financial needs. If the court rules that one spouse is eligible to receive spousal maintenance, the value of that spousal maintenance will be calculated with respect to the other’s financial needs and earning capacity.
Spouses are expected to pay spousal support following a separation or divorce finalisation until their former spouse has been able to demonstrate they are financially capable of supporting themselves, or that they’ve entered into another marriage or de facto partnership wherein their new partner has been able to provide for them financially.
Spousal maintenance is the financial support paid to a spouse in recognition of mutual obligations both parties share even after legal separation or divorce. Spousal maintenance can contribute to the care and control of children under the age of 18 years, the health and wellbeing of both parties and the standard of living.
After legal separation or divorce both parties have a right to spousal maintenance if it is financially viable for those involved. Furthermore, Under Section 72 of the Family Law Act, a spouse has the right to maintenance if they are unable to support themselves adequately because of: a) the care of a child of the marriage; b) age or physical or mental incapacity; or c) any other adequate reason.
Generally speaking, spousal maintenance can only commence on the day an order is made, i.e: within 12 months of divorce being finalised or within two years of legal separation, so Family Court cannot rule that spousal maintenance be backdated.
After legal separation it is possible to claim spousal maintenance as a de facto partner, however it does rely on a number of factors. For a de facto partner to claim spousal maintenance, both parties must have been in a relationship for at least two years, there must be a child of the relationship, or one party must have made substantial contributions to the relationship and discontinuation of which would cause significant injustice. Furthermore, de facto partners must apply for spousal maintenance within two year of the relationship breakdown.
If you receive or will receive Centrelink benefits you are required to report the funds as financial support can impact your eligibility. Whether spousal maintenance will impact Centrelink payments or not depends on the type of benefit you receive, so it is important to talk to the relevant parties for more information.