Upon the end of a marriage or de facto relationship, many family law clients are surprised to learn that it is not presumed that one party will support the other party into the future as part of a final property settlement.
This is due to what is known as the “clean break” principle under Australian law, which means that upon a property settlement being given effect, both parties are entitled to move on with their lives without an obligation to support their ex partner, although there will generally be an ongoing obligation on both parties to provide financially for the needs of minor children.
However, the Court nonetheless has the power to make Orders for the payment of spousal maintenance by one party to the other as part of interim (short term) or final property Orders in appropriate circumstances. This is of course extremely important for a party who is struggling to make ends meet on a week by week basis since the end of the marriage or de facto relationship.
What is required for a Court to make orders for the payment of spousal maintenance are:
- One party has a need for financial assistance to meet their reasonable everyday living expenses; and
- The other party has the ability to make payments towards their former spouse or partner’s everyday living expenses.
If your and your partner’s circumstances meet the above two criteria, you may be in a position to negotiate with your former partner the payment or receipt of spousal maintenance; or otherwise to successfully bring an Application for spousal maintenance in the Court.
Equally, you may need to respond to a request for spousal maintenance from a former spouse or partner; or formally respond to a Court Application for spousal maintenance made by your former partner or former spouse.
You may agree that your ex spouse or partner has a need for spousal maintenance, and that you have the ability to contribute to such maintenance – or alternatively you may disagree, and you may oppose the making of the spousal maintenance Order.
Feel free to contact Stephanie Hope, Senior Associate and Head of Family Law at Sanicki Lawyers at firstname.lastname@example.org .au or call on 03 95109888 if you would like to arrange a confidential advice session to discuss spousal maintenance.