Understanding spousal and de facto maintenance (alimony)

Leach Legal can assist you to achieve better outcomes

A spouse or de facto partner can file an application stating that they require financial assistance. When this application is successful, it means that the other partner is liable to pay financial support and is known as spousal or de facto partner maintenance. 

When is a party liable to pay spousal maintenance?

  1. When the applicant party cannot support themselves for an adequate reason, including but not limited to, having care of children of the relationship under 18 years old or not being gainfully employed due to age or physical/mental incapacity.
  2. When the liable party has the capacity to pay maintenance.

In other words, where the reasonable expenses of the applicant exceed their reasonable income (resulting in a deficit) and the reasonable income of the liable party exceeds their reasonable expenses (resulting in a surplus).

‘Reasonable expenses’ does not mean the survival level. There is no fixed or absolute standard, but where possible, parties should live as per the standard enjoyed during their relationship but with the consideration that there are now two households of expenses.

‘Reasonable income’ is not assessed merely on income, but also property, financial resources and earning capacity. The Family Court has previously determined the primary carer of school-aged children could obtain part-time employment. Similarly, a party out of the workforce for some time without qualifications could obtain retail/administrative work.

What is the time limit to apply for spousal maintenance?

If you were married, you have 12 months from the date of your divorce order to file an application. 

If you were in a de facto relationship, the application must be filed within two years from the separation date.

Additional questions you may have that Leach Legal can assist you with:

  • Might I be entitled to Spousal or De facto Maintenance?
  • Is my ex reasonably able to provide such support?
  • Is my ex seeking Spousal or De facto Maintenance?
  • Am I reasonably able to provide such support?
  • How do I make a spousal or de facto maintenance application?
  • Do I have to pay spousal or de facto maintenance?
  • How long would I need to pay spousal or de facto maintenance for?
  • Can I receive spousal or de facto maintenance as a lump sum? 
  • How do I cancel spousal or de facto maintenance orders? 
  • Do I need to tell my ex if my circumstances change? 
  • Can I recoup wrongfully made spousal or facto maintenance payments? 

If spousal or de facto partner maintenance is likely to be a factor in your separation, it is best to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. Book a 15 minute consultation with Leach Legal to help clarify the issues and achieve better outcomes.