Do you need spousal maintenance or have you been asked to pay spousal maintenance?
Sometimes after separation, one of the partners may have difficulty in financially supporting themselves and the children. In these cases, the Court has the power to order that one partner fund spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance is support funded by a spouse or de facto spouse for the benefit of the other spouse or de facto spouse after a divorce or separation – whether that is in the form of money being paid, bills being paid, or specific items being made available, such as a car. Although most people think of it as money being paid – a bit like child support – the scope is much wider.
Spousal maintenance is most often ordered in circumstances where one party has a higher income earning capacity in comparison to an ex-partner who is unable to adequately financially support themselves due to having a lower income earning capacity. It may also be applicable if one party has a substantial value of assets (particularly liquid assets) and where their ex-partner is unable to adequately financially support themselves.
If the parties cannot reach an agreement as to any spousal maintenance, then generally the lower income earning party will make an application to the court for a spousal maintenance order.
A spousal maintenance order might include:
- That one spouse pay to the other spouse a lump sum amount on a once off basis;
- That one spouse pay to the other spouse a smaller sum to be paid regularly ( weekly, fortnightly, monthly etc);
- That one spouse provide a vehicle to the other, or alternatively, make arrangements for suitable accommodation or sole occupation of a premises; and/or
- That one spouse pay certain expenses, such as health insurance, loan repayments, or specific bills.
For more information, please see our page on when you can apply for spousal maintenance.