Post-separation can be a stressful time particularly if you are concerned about your finances and your family’s financial future. However, if your income is significantly lower than that of your former spouse, you may be entitled to receive financial support. Here, our Family Lawyers provide a simple answer to the frequently asked question: Do I have to pay Spousal Maintenance?

What is an Spousal Maintenance?

Spousal Maintenance is a financial support payment made by one party to their former spouse in circumstances in which they cannot adequately support themselves financially.  Under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) a person has a responsibility to financially support their former spouse in circumstances in which they cannot reasonably meet their own living expenses.

Do I have to pay Spousal Maintenance?

Generally, if one spouse has a significantly disparate income from the other and would be unable to reasonably support themselves financially the Court may consider making an order for spouse maintenance.  Under Section 72 of the Act, the Court considers the following elements when considering whether to make this Order:  Firstly, reasonable capacity to financially support the other party. Secondly, having care or control over a child of the relationship. Thirdly, any physical or mental incapacity to be employed. Or finally,  any other relevant reason.  Within Section 75(2) of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) the Court also considers:  Firstly your age and health status. Secondly, your income and financial resources like properties or trusts. Thirdly, your capacity for work and gainful employement. Fourthly, your reasonable standard of living. And finally, whether your relationship has affected your capacity to earn an income.

Is there  a time limit for Spousal Maintenance?

Upon these factors, should the Court determine that a spouse maintenance payment would be appropriate then they will grant the Order and you shall receive a payment for an indefinite period of time or for a specific period of time as ordered by the Court or agreed upon by the parties.  Please note that the applicant has a time limit of 12 months after the finalisation of divorce to make applications for spousal maintenance.

New South Lawyers’ communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. To that end, people should not rely on this communication as legal advice. Accordingly, they should seek formal legal advice for matters of interest arising from this communication.

To find out more, chat with a member of New South Lawyers' Family Law Team today.