Are you entitled to Spousal Maintenance?

Written by Matthew Elvin

Spousal maintenance is when one party to a broken down relationship is legally required to provide financial support to (or ‘maintain’) the other for a period of time after their relationship ends. This is because, under the Family Law Act, spouses have a duty to support and maintain each other, even after the relationship has ended.

separation and spousal maintenanceYour entitlement to spousal maintenance is not automatic. In order for a claim to succeed you must essentially show that you are unable to adequately meet your own reasonable needs, and that your ex has the capacity to pay.

In deciding whether a spousal maintenance claim will succeed, the Court will consider the following factors:

  • The income, property, assets, liabilities and other financial resources of both the parties;
  • The parties’ income earning capacities, and whether this has been affected by the relationship;
  • The parties’ ages, health and other factors that may affect the parties’ future needs;
  • What would be a suitable standard of living for the person making the application for spousal maintenance; and
  • Which party the children live with.

Spousal maintenance will usually continue until one of the following occurs:

  • you re-marry;
  • you commence a new de-facto relationship which improves your financial situation;
  • your child care responsibilities change;
  • your income earning capacity improves;
  • your ex’s income earning capacity reduces; or
  • you dies before one of these other events.

If your ex wishes to stop paying it (because one of the above incidents have occurred, for instance), they will have to apply to the court.

The amount of spousal maintenance to be paid to you will vary depending on your circumstances. It completely depends on the facts. For instance, there are some cases where the amount paid was only a few dollars per week, and other cases where over $1,500 per week was paid. However, it is more common for weekly spousal maintenance payments to be between $100 to $300.

Finally, it is important to remember that applications for spousal maintenance must be made within 12 months of a divorce becoming final, or within two years from the date that a de facto relationship ended. If these deadlines are missed, then late applications may only be brought with permission of the court, which may not be granted.

If you have any questions about spousal maintenance at Family Law, do not hesitate to contact TBA Law for assistance.

Contact us to arrange a chat. It doesn’t hurt to ask.