A state of survival is perhaps one of the most fitting phrases to describe the situation many find themselves in after a relationship separation. A separation can be emotionally devastating in and of itself without the added weight of supporting a child through the process, or the stress of financial dependency.
Post-separation you may find yourself in some tricky situations – not having worked during the relationship as the primary carer for your children, or your partner having earned a considerably higher wage and now being unable to maintain for yourself the same living standards.
You are likely already aware of your right to child support, but a lesser-known option to many is your entitlement for spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance is available for marriages, civil unions, and de facto relationships, although each has different qualifying criteria. You may be entitled to spousal maintenance post-separation and/or post-dissolution a marriage or civil union (or for a de facto relationship, only post-separation).
CAN I CLAIM SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE?
You may be able to claim maintenance from your ex-spouse or partner if:
- You are not self-supporting and are unable to become so due to the division of functions in the relationship, the earning capacity of each party, or other relevant circumstances;
- You are the primary caregiver for any dependent children;
- The standard of living for you or your children has decreased post-separation; or
- You are undertaking a length of education or training to either increase your earning capacity or to reduce the need for spousal maintenance.
HOW LONG CAN SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE BE PAID FOR?
Spousal maintenance is only available for a length of time deemed reasonable by the circumstances of each case. As there is no set timeframe, what constitutes ‘reasonable’ will vary from relationship to relationship. Other factors that may affect the period of spousal maintenance are the age of each party, the length of the relationship, or the ability to become self-supporting post-separation. It is important to note that spousal maintenance will no longer be payable if you enter into a new marriage, civil union, or de facto relationship.
HOW MUCH CAN I RECEIVE?
The sum of spousal maintenance you could be entitled to will depend on:
- The financial position of both you and your ex-spouse/partner, including potential earning capacity and any means gained from relationship property division;
- Reasonable needs for you and your ex-spouse/partner. The standard of living for both parties during the relationship will be taken into account;
- Whether your ex-spouse/partner has any further dependents to support;
- The financial and/or other responsibilities of both you and your ex-spouse/partner; and
- Any other relevant circumstances.
Get in touch with our team today to discuss spousal maintenance, or to talk with us regarding any aspect of family law.