Following separation, you may be entitled to claim spousal maintenance.
Spousal maintenance is payments from one spouse or partner to the other to help to meet the shortfall between income and spending after separation.
You may be eligible for maintenance not only if you have been married, but also if you were previously in a de facto relationship and have separated.
Typically, spousal maintenance will be a recurring payment such as once a month, for a set period of time.
If one party to the relationship is unable to meet their reasonable financial needs, they may be able to claim maintenance from the other party. Your reasonable needs are based on the standard of living you had prior to separation.
A party will be entitled to maintenance if the other party earns a greater income than their spouse because there has been a decision made or an arrangement where the spouse puts their efforts to support the income earner by maintaining the household or being the primary carer of their children.
It can be difficult for the party looking after the children to survive immediately following separation and they need time to adjust.
Maintenance is essential to ensuring both parties are able to survive financially following separation and to ensure the parties are both in a secure situation, which will assist when relationship property settlement is being negotiated.
Parties may be able to come to their own agreement on the amount of maintenance that is appropriate with the assistance of lawyers, or if parties cannot agree, an application to the Family court may be required. An application to the Family Court can be time-consuming and costly, so it is in the parties’ best interests to agree on maintenance without needing to resort to Court proceedings where possible.
Where an application to the Family Court is required for spousal maintenance, the Family Court Judge has the discretion to direct that interim maintenance payments are made before the substantive maintenance application is determined. Interim maintenance lasts for six months. Maintenance can also be backdated to start from the date of separation.
When calculating the level of maintenance payable, a detailed budget from the party making the claim, showing spending that occurred in the past and spending that is likely to occur moving forward must be provided.
Maintenance is a separate consideration from child support.
The amount of maintenance payable depends on the individual circumstances of each relationship. If you think you might be eligible for spousal maintenance or are unsure whether you are required to pay it, please get in touch with our relationship property team at email@example.com or 03 441 2743.