What is spouse maintenance and how is it different to child support?
Spouse maintenance is where one partner provides ongoing financial support for their former partner. Spouse maintenance is separate from child support. Child support is paid for the benefit for the children whilst spouse maintenance is for your benefit. It is possible that you may be entitled to receive/pay both spouse maintenance and child support.
When is spouse maintenance awarded?
The Court can only make an order for spouse maintenance if:
- One partner is unable to meet his/her own needs; and
- The other partner has the capacity to pay for these needs.
How much spouse maintenance is appropriate?
There is no fixed formula to determine how much spouse maintenance is paid. The amount paid is dependent on the specific circumstances of the parties. It is necessary to consider:
- Your age and health
- Your income, property and financial resources
- Your ability to work and
- Whether being a party to the relationship has affected your ability to earn income
The Court also considers what amount is necessary for the receiving partner to achieve a reasonable standard of living. This is not necessarily the same standard of living the partner lead prior to separation.
If you are concerned about payment of spouse maintenance or are unsure as to whether you may be entitled to such payment, please do not hesitate to contact one of our family lawyers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I eligible for both spousal maintenance and child support?
Spouse maintenance is for you and is separate and additional to child support for the children and is also separate and additional to your property rights.
How long do I need to pay spouse maintenance?
This is dependent on your specific circumstances. For example, the Court may only order that spouse maintenance be paid for a short period of say, two years, so that the person receiving support can retrain to enter the workforce. In other circumstances, where a person has been out of work for many years or has little to no capacity to earn any income in the future, a court may order maintenance on a “lifelong” basis.
Importantly, if your former partner remarries, you are no longer required to pay spouse maintenance.
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