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Whether you are seeking spousal maintenance to address your own financial needs, or your former spouse is seeking financial support from you after separation or divorce, our team is equipped with the knowledge and experience to steer you to the best possible outcome.

Understanding spousal maintenance

When a separation occurs, household expenses and personal living costs don’t disappear. Financial stress and uncertainty can peak when decisions need to be made after a break-up, often quite quickly, about how to pay joint debts and meet each person’s financial costs. There can be additional worry or suffering for those who relied on their spouse for financial support during the relationship for their day to day living costs and personal financial needs.

Perhaps you’ve been the person raising the children and your career took a backseat, or perhaps you have health challenges that do not allow you to work as your spouse did? Spouse maintenance, sometimes known in other countries as alimony, is payable when the reasonably adequate expenses of one person cannot be met from their own income, and the other member of the former couple can afford to help them cover their costs.

Spouse maintenance requires a detailed assessment of the needs of one party and the financial capacity of the other. It is designed to address imbalances in financial security. It can be out in place temporarily or permanently arrangement, depending on the circumstances of each case.

Eligibility for spousal maintenance

To be eligible for spousal maintenance, an individual must demonstrate that they cannot meet their own reasonable needs and that their former partner has the capacity to provide financial support. Factors considered include age, health, income, ability to gain employment, and what is considered a reasonable standard of living.

Spousal maintenance is a separate entitlement to child support and a property settlement. It is not automatic or administered by an external government agency, so you need to talk to us about whether it applies in your situation or not.

Spouse maintenance might apply if you or your former partner:

  • Have children under the age of 18 that one of you are caring for;
  • Age, physical or mental incapacity limits you or your former spouse’s ability to be in the paid workforce;
  • Other reasons, such as commitments to support yourself, children or other dependents.

When and how do I claim spousal maintenance?

If possible and safe to do so, negotiating an arrangement with your former partner to meet immediate financial costs for both of you, start. You can do this as soon as a separation occurs to ensure that income is adequately distributed between the two of you. If you reach an agreement, we can walk you through how to ensure that the agreement is followed and how it can be enforced if it is not.

If resolving things by agreement isn’t an option, or the financial support you had had provided previously is withheld or withdrawn, then the Court can decide an application for spouse maintenance. The Court can determine cases for spouse maintenance urgently if the situation requires this.

There are some deadlines that apply for applying to the Court. You must make an application for spouse maintenance within 12 months of becoming divorced if you were married, or within 2 years of separation if you were in a de facto relationship. In most cases compulsory alternate dispute resolution is required before commencing a Court application, although there are exceptions such as when a situation is urgent or where it is unsafe for it to occur.

Spouse maintenance can be paid in many ways. One way is for it to be paid directly to third parties, such as payments onto a mortgage, to a landlord for rent or towards a motor vehicle. When spouse maintenance is ordered by the Court, it can be for a periodic amount paid either weekly, fortnightly or monthly or paid as a lump sum.

How much spouse maintenance do I have to pay and for how long?

The amount of spouse maintenance you may be required to pay is unique to each case. A meticulous analysis of sources of capacities to work in paid employment, income and relationship expenditure can inform the approach you take to this issue, including whether you make a claim (or resist one) or prioritise longer term financial processes such as the final division of property, debts and superannuation in a property adjustment. Decisions made in relation to property adjustment and spouse maintenance can impact on one another, so having an advisor who understands how they conflict or complement one another is essential.

Spouse maintenance is not usually paid on a permanent or ongoing basis. The goal of the Family Law Act regarding property and finances is to allow the former couple to uncouple financially. This means that when spouse maintenance is ordered, it is usually for a fixed period, to allow for the property settlement to take place, or for the person with financial need to re-house, study or retrain to enter the work force and become self-sufficient.

Our approach to spousal maintenance

Our approach at Parker Coles Curtis is comprehensive and tailored to the specific needs of our clients. We offer:

  • Initial assessment: We undertake an in-depth review of your financial situation, and to the extent that we can, of your former partner to determine eligibility for spousal maintenance.
  • Negotiation and mediation: We aim to resolve spousal maintenance claims through negotiation or mediation, seeking amicable agreements that reflect the needs and capabilities of both parties. We are pragmatic and commercial in our approach whenever that is feasible.
  • Legal representation: If an agreement cannot be reached, we provide robust legal representation, advocating for your rights and interests in Court proceedings.

How we can help

  • For applicants: We guide you through out of Court options, and if necessary, to making a spousal maintenance application. We skilfully assist you to present a strong case that accurately reflects your needs.
  • For respondents: We critically assess the claim that is being made and leave no stone unturned. We assist in ensuring that any obligations are fair and reflect your genuine financial capacity. We also prepare and advise upon agreements which preclude your former spouse from bringing a claim for spouse maintenance to safeguard your future risk of a claim.
  • Variations and enforcement: We also help with applications for variations to existing spouse maintenance orders and enforcement of spousal maintenance orders where compliance is an issue.

Why work with us

  • Expertise: Our specialisation in family law means that you benefit from a depth of knowledge and experience in spousal maintenance matters. We ensure you know your rights and obligations, and the processes that lie ahead.
  • Client-focused: We understand the sensitivity and complexity of spousal maintenance issues. We work closely with our clients to ensure their needs are met and their rights are protected.
  • Proven track record: We have a proven track record in successfully managing spousal maintenance cases, both in and out of Court. We are proud of our commitment to achieving favourable outcomes for our clients.

Secure your financial future

Spousal maintenance is one of many issues we consider when advising you about financial issues following a separation or divorce. At Parker Coles Curtis, we are dedicated to navigating our clients through this challenging aspect of family law with empathy, expertise, and strategic advice. Contact us to learn more about how we can assist with your spousal maintenance matter and help secure your financial future.

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