Spousal Maintenance / Alimony
Spousal maintenance is the provision of financial support by one spouse to the other after separation.
Spousal maintenance is separate from child support, which is related to financial support paid by one parent to the other for their children.
In deciding whether, and how much, spousal maintenance one spouse should pay to the other, our family law system considers:
- whether the payee spouse has ability to meet their expenses, and;
- whether the payer spouse has capacity to pay.
If a party is not prevented from working because of a serious illness or because they have care of a young child, that party is usually expected to work in paid employment and pay their own expenses. There are of course other reasons why someone is unable to work. For example, they are elderly or they have been out of the workforce for many years. If you have questions about your eligibility for spousal maintenance or your obligation to pay maintenance, please give us a ring.
If one spouse refuses to pay spousal maintenance, then the only way to obtain spousal maintenance payments is through a court order. Spousal maintenance orders are not frequently made in Australia. One reason is the application process can be complicated and people often don’t bother applying for a spousal maintenance order. When a spouse maintenance order is made, it is usually applicable for a set period of time. For example, for 1 to 2 years to allow someone to retrain and get a job. In special circumstances, orders can be made for payments to take place over a longer period of time or for one party to transfer a lump sum to another in lieu of periodic payments.
If you and your ex have reached an agreement about the spousal maintenance that your ex-spouse, we can help you document that agreement so if your ex stops paying, you have a legally enforceable document.
It is also often assumed that if your ex is not eligible for spousal maintenance now, then you don’t need to worry about it ever again. However, circumstances can change. Your ex may fall ill or may lose their job. We can assist you to end your spousal maintenance obligations once and for all so you have peace of mind. We can draft a document through which you and your ex can give up your respective rights to claim spousal maintenance against each other in the future. We offer to draft spousal maintenance agreements as part of our property settlement packages should you wish to resolve these issues together.
Please contact us further if you would like to find out more about your right to seek spousal maintenance or your obligation to pay it.