If a divorce or separation leaves you unable to meet your own living expenses, it is possible to seek financial assistance from your former spouse or de facto partner to maintain an appropriate standard of living. These payments, known as spousal maintenance, can be made as a lump sum or continue over several years.
Under the Family Law Act, an individual has a legal responsibility to financially assist their former spouse or de facto partner if that individual cannot meet their own reasonable expenses from their personal income or assets. Considerations that may be used to determine eligibility for spousal maintenance are similar to those used for financial settlements.
There are three types of spousal maintenance – urgent, interim and final. Considerations in determining the appropriate spousal maintenance include:
- The age and health of both persons involved,
- The income, assets and financial resources available,
- Capacity for each person to find suitable employment,
- Whether either person has care of a child under the age of 18, and
- Eligibility for pensions or other government benefits.
Additional considerations include the duration of the relationship, the extent to which the earning capacity has been disrupted and the ability for both persons to continue with a reasonable standard of living if a spousal maintenance order or agreement is made. Spousal maintenance is generally considered as part of an overall property settlement.
If you believe you may be entitled to receive spousal maintenance, call our Newcastle office on (02) 4058 5844 or send us an online enquiry for a confidential discussion with one of our family lawyers. The first consultation is free.