In America it's called "alimony". In Australia it's called "spousal maintenance" or "partner maintenance". So what is it? And how does the Court determine whether it is paid and how much is paid? Read this blog post to find out more.
In Australia, the financially stronger party is obligated to support the other party, to the extent they are reasonably able to do so, if and only if, the other party is unable to adequately support themselves because:
- they have the care and control of a child of the marriage who is under 18 years of age;
- due to their age, physical or mental incapacity they are unable to find appropriate profitable employment; or
- for any other adequate reason, having regard to the matters as set out in section 75(2) of the Family Law Act 1975 ( or section 205ZD of the Family Court Act 1997 for de facto couples).
To assess whether one party has the capacity to pay spousal maintenance, and whether the other party has a need for spousal maintenance, the Family Court will look at:
- the parties' financial circumstances, and in particular each parties' income and expenses; and
- the relevant facts as as to why one of the parties is unable to adequately support themselves (as set out above).
Orders for spousal or partner maintenance can be made on a final basis or on an interim basis (i.e. until final orders are made). Spousal or partner maintenance can be paid by way of a lump sum, or on a periodic basis of say, weekly, fortnightly or monthly payments.
Spousal maintenance orders that are in force, can be discharged, suspended, revived or varied so that the amount paid can be increased or decreased, or varied in any other manner.
The same laws apply for married couples and de facto couples.
For more information about your rights, entitlements and obligations in relation to spousal or partner maintenance, please contact Applecross Family Lawyers on (08) 9364 9915 or 0474 458 340.