Can I get spousal maintenance in Australia?
According to the Family Law Act, a party in a marital or de facto relationship has the right to seek for Spousal Maintenance during an event of separation. Spousal maintenance is a financial support provided by the other party in the relationship if the party is unable to support themselves or does not have the capacity to earn an income.
In Australia, legislation does not use the term ‘alimony’. Instead, ‘spousal maintenance’ is used.
1. Who can apply for spousal maintenance?
Both married couples and de facto partners can seek spousal maintenance from their partners after separation if they cannot adequately support themselves.
To apply for spousal maintenance, you need to satisfy the following requirements:
- You are unable to adequately support yourself
- The other party is able to pay you spousal maintenance
2. What is the time limit to apply for spousal maintenance?
If you were married
You must make spousal maintenance application within 12 months of your divorce becoming final.
If you were in a de facto relationship
You must make application for de facto partner maintenance within 2 years of the breakdown of your relationship.
If you missed the time limit
If you have exceeded the deadline to apply for a spousal maintenance order, you are required to apply to the Court for special permission.
3. How do I apply for spousal maintenance?
It is recommended that you try to reach an agreement with your spouse before commencing legal proceedings.
If you cannot reach an agreement, you can seek spousal maintenance orders by filing following documents to the court:
- Initiating application
- Affidavit in support
- Financial statement
You should seek legal advice from an experienced family lawyer at Ascent Lawyers before finalising your matter.
4. How does the court determine how much I get?
There is no formula for calculating how much spousal maintenance you can get. When assessing whether spousal maintenance should be paid and how much, the court will consider your financial needs and the financial capacity of your spouse.
5. What will the court consider?
When considering your spousal maintenance application, the court takes into account the following:
- Your age
- Your health condition
- Your income, property and financial resources
- Your ability to work
- What is a suitable standard of living
- If the marriage has affected your ability to earn
- Who do the children live with (under 18 or adult children with disability)
6. How do I get paid for spousal maintenance?
Spousal maintenance can be paid by regular payments or once in a lump sum payment. This depends on the needs and preferences of the parties.
7. How long does a spousal maintenance order last?
The length of a spousal maintenance order can be set by a Court for a specified time. Spousal maintenance stops on the:
- Death of the spouse receiving maintenance
- Death of a person liable to make payment (subject to certain restrictions)
- Remarriage of the spouse receiving maintenance (except in special circumstances)
Spousal maintenance will not necessarily end if the spouse receiving maintenance enters into a subsequent de facto relationship.
8. Can I receive spousal maintenance after I start a new relationship?
If you start a new de facto relationship
The court will consider the financial relationship between you and your new de facto partner when considering whether you are able to support yourself.
If you marry another person
You are not entitled to spousal maintenance uncles the court orders otherwise.
If you or someone you know needs expert advice from our team of family lawyers, do not hesitate to contact us.