Spousal Maintenance

Following a separation, you may be suffering from severe financial hardship. Berryman Partners can advise if you have an entitlement to make a spousal maintenance claim.

Spousal maintenance involves a party making an application for financial support from their former spouse in if they are unable to adequately support themselves. A person has a responsibility to provide for their spouse or de facto partner if they do not have the means or capacity to meet their own reasonable living expenses.This responsibility continues following separation and even after divorce.

Berryman Partners can provide you with expert advice and assist you in the entire process. The process for obtaining spousal maintenance involves making an application to the Family Court. If both parties have reached an agreement and want to formalise the agreement, they can apply to the court for consent orders. If there is no agreement, your application will be determined by the Court.

In making a decision, the Court will take into account your:

  • Age
  • Health
  • Income
  • Assets and financial resources
  • Ability to undertake employment

The court also takes into account if the marriage has affected your ability to earn an income and if you have children under the age of 18 years or adult disabled children who require your ongoing support and assistance.

Financial support paid by a party to a marriage to their former husband or wife in circumstances where they are unable to adequately support themselves. Applications for spouse maintenance must be made within 12 months of your divorce becoming final.

You are not entitled to maintenance if you marry another person, unless the Court orders otherwise.

If you were in a de facto relationship that has since broken down, you may also be entitled to spousal maintenance. Applications for de facto partner maintenance must be made within 2 years of the breakdown of the relationship.

The Family Law Court can make a de facto partner maintenance order if one of the following is satisfied:

  • The period of the de facto relationship is at least 2 years
  • There is a child of the de facto relationship
  • One of the partners made substantial financial or non-financial contributions
  • The de facto relationship has been registered

You can read more about de facto relationships here.

The spousal maintenance order can be expressed to be payable as a lump sum or as periodic payments for a defined period of time to allow the applicant find suitable employment to adequately support themselves.

Spousal maintenance payments will discontinue when:

  • The order expired – the order will have a predetermined period.
  • The order is discharged – either party can apply to discharge the order while it is still in effect.
  • One of the parties dies – unlike property orders, if either the party paying maintenance or the party receiving maintenance dies, the order for spousal maintenance ends.
  • The party receiving maintenance remarries – this usually results in termination of the spousal maintenance order. However if the party enters into a de facto relationship, this does not automatically terminate the order.

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