Following a divorce or separation, you may be wondering whether there is Alimony in Australia.
You may have heard of the concept of Alimony from American television and movies and are now wondering whether anything similar exists in Australia that you may be entitled to.
Well, in fact… there is! And it is called spousal maintenance!
The purpose of this article is to discuss in detail everything you need to know about spousal maintenance, or what can be colloquially referred to as Alimony in Australia.
What Is Alimony In Australia And Spousal Maintenance?
Although the concept of alimony in Australia does not exist, we have an almost identical idea, that is spousal maintenance.
Spousal maintenance refers to the Court-ordered financial support payments made from one person to their former partner. The reason behind these Court-ordered payments is so that the person receiving the payments may maintain a reasonable standard of living following divorce or separation.
However, it should be noted that these payments will not continue indefinitely and are only to be viewed as a means of aiding the receiver of the payments establish themselves whilst seeking employment, pursuing education and so forth.
The likelihood of a successful spousal maintenance claim will vary from situation to situation, which is reflected in Section 75 of the Family Law Act (1975). A successful spousal maintenance claim will result in the Court may making one of the following orders:
- For your former partner to make regular financial payments to you.
- For certain assets such as the home to be sold and the sale’s proceeds given to you.
What Are The Eligibility Requirements For Spousal Maintenance In Australia?
If you want alimony in Australia or Spousal maintenance, you first need to consider whether you are eligible for the grant.
For spousal maintenance to be even considered, the partner paying must have extensive assets and finances or be employed. The other partner must not have the financial means to support themselves. If this is the case, we can then proceed to the eligibility requirements for the payment.
First: application for spousal maintenance must be made within a specified period, depending on whether it is a de facto relationship or marriage. For de facto relationships, this time is twenty-four months. When concerning divorce, spousal maintenance must be awarded within twelve months of the divorce. It may be challenging to agree on an exact date of separation for this requirement concerning de facto relationships. Therefore, parties to a relationship disagree on this, the Family Court will consider any supporting evidence from the parties.
Secondly: the partner paying the spousal maintenance benefit must have the financial means necessary to support the partner receiving the help. This means the Court must be satisfied that they have the additional income to contribute to your expenses whilst also managing their costs.
When Does The Court Grant Spousal Maintenance?
Section 75 of the Family Law Act provides the most extensive list of matters the Courts consider in granting spousal maintenance.
The most common matters include the following:
- The extent to which the payment of maintenance can aid the payment receiver to re-establish themselves by undertaking further education, employment, or training to obtain a sufficient income;
- The health state and age of each party;
- The income, property, and financial resources of both parties;
- The physical and mental capacity of the applicant to obtain employment;
- The responsibilities of either party to support any other person;
- Whether either party has the care or control of a child of the marriage under 18 years of age;
- Any commitments of each party necessary to enable the receiver of the payment to support themselves, a child, or another person;
- Any superannuation fund or scheme within or outside Australia;
- The eligibility of either party for a pension, allowance or benefit under the Commonwealth, State, Territory of another country;
- To maintain a standard of living that is reasonable in the circumstance;
- To enable a party to continue their role as a parent; and
- Whether either party is cohabitating with another and the financial circumstances relating to that cohabitation.
It is essential to understand that this list does not contain everything considered. It would be best if you spoke with a family lawyer to see whether your circumstances would qualify you for spousal maintenance.
Importance of Seeking Legal Advice
When discussing the concept of Alimony in Australia, it is essential to note that alimony does not exist in Australia, and here we have the equivalent known as spousal maintenance.
If you have any more questions about spousal maintenance, please do not hesitate to reach out. We are happy to answer any queries you may have and provide you with the guidance you need.
Here at JB Solicitors, we’ll make the process as pain-free as possible. We have fixed-fee pricing for family law, giving you a clear sense of the costs from the start, and we will be sure to help you out every step of the way.
With years of experience under our belt, we pride ourselves on making each client’s family law experience as positive as possible.
Contact JB Solicitors today to speak with one of our friendly and experienced family lawyers.
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