- What is Spouse Maintenance?
Spouse maintenance is the payment of money from one spouse to another, and can be claimed by people who are married, or live in a heterosexual de facto couple or those who live in a homosexual de facto relationship.
The two main factors to be established:
- the party applying for maintenance has a need for financial assistance; and
- the other party has a capacity to pay the amount sought (or some other amount the Court determines to be reasonable).
- Who can apply?
Any spouse party may apply for spouse maintenance. It is important for people to remember this when they are considering moving in with someone. An example would be a couple in their late 50s who decide to cohabitate. If they fulfil the requirements of a de facto relationship (remembering there is no need for the parties to live together for 2 years) then the wealthier party is subject to a claim for not only property settlement but also spouse maintenance if the relationship deteriorates.
It is also possible for a person to apply for spouse maintenance EVEN IF they are not entitled to a property division.
- How do I apply?
If parties are not able to negotiate an agreement they can approach the Family Court and seek the Court make Orders for spouse maintenance.
- How much can I get?
This depends on the case. Payments can be made as monthly instalments, or as a lump sum or spouse maintenance can also be satisfied through a transfer of real property.
- What do I do next?
Applications for spouse maintenance are often complex and require careful consideration. It is always preferable to have a solicitor draft or at least review the application to the Court before it is filed so as to ensure the best chance of success.
Once you have seen a Family Law Lawyer the next step to take is to prepare the Application and lodge it with the Court. Your lawyer should suggest attempting to resolve the outstanding issues before you go to Court in an attempt to reduce legal costs and the heartache that a Court application can involve.
If you would like to know more about your right to spouse maintenance or to discuss how to reduce your risk of a claim from others please contact Amy Jenkins, Senior Associate and Head of our Family Law Team at 8987 0000 or AJenkins@aitkenlawyers.com.au.