Spousal and partner maintenance

Being part of a leading boutique family law practice, the lawyers at Sarah Bevan Family Lawyers have significant experience in post separation property settlements inclusive of spouse and partner maintenance. Spouse and partner maintenance matters are usually complex and have some level of urgency. You can trust our skill and expertise to obtain an expedient resolution.

When spouses or partners separate often times one is left in a financially disadvantaged position. This may be as a result of one spouse or partner being the primary breadwinner in the relationship while the other remained at home to care for children and attended to homemaker duties. One spouse or partner may have had health issues preventing them from obtaining gainful employment. In other circumstances a spouse or partner may have had financial control over the assets leaving the other party in a weaker financial position after the breakdown of the relationship. 

Spousal Maintenance

Spouse or partner maintenance can be ordered by a Judge, or can be agreed between the parties. Spouse or partner maintenance takes a variety of forms such as: 

  • A lump sum payment;
  • Periodic payments which continue indefinitely;
  • Periodic payments for a fixed term or  in the interim until final settlement;
  • Exclusive occupation of a property, use of a vehicle or ownership of other property;
  • Payments through an entity, such as company or trust, to the recipient, but these require special care given tax and other implications.

Under the Family Law Act, a spouse or partner may be liable to support the other, if that other is unable to adequately support himself or herself because of:

  • Having care and control of a child of the relationship who is under 18 years;
  • Age or physical or mental incapacity for appropriate gainful employment
  • Any other adequate reason.

The payee must also reasonably have the capacity to pay the recipient. Capacity to pay is assessed by the determining the paying spouse/partner’s financial position after meeting their own reasonable financial commitments. What is reasonable is a question of degree.

As with almost all family law issues, the unique and individual circumstances of the former couple must be carefully considered. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and so it is essential to obtain specialist advice as early as possible. Our team of skilled lawyers are able  to provide you with advice as to whether you may be eligible, or liable, for spouse or partner maintenance. We will then guide you through any agreement reached, or if necessary, a Court application.