With what can be attributed to the influence of American television, many Australians are asking their lawyers the question ‘What is Alimony?’
This article aims to shed some light on the question of ‘What is alimony?’ and provide a detailed guide on the topic—spoiler alert. In Australia, we do not have alimony.
Does Alimony Exist In Australia?
So if we do not have alimony in Australia, then what is Alimony in Australia? While the concept of alimony does not exist in our country, we have a very similar idea – that is, spousal maintenance.
Spousal maintenance is a payment from one person to their former partner for when they are financially struggling or finding it difficult to sufficiently provide for themselves from a financial standpoint following a divorce or separation.
A successful claim for spousal maintenance will result in the court making orders to the effect of:
1. One party to make regular periodic payments to their former partner
And sometimes additionally:
2. For specific items such as the home of the marriage to be sold and for the proceeds of the sale to be provided to the party receiving the spousal maintenance payments.
Are There Any Eligibility Requirements For Spousal Maintenance?
The threshold or eligibility requirements for spousal maintenance are pretty low.
Firstly, the partner paying must have the financial means to support the partner receiving the payment.
The second requirement refers to the period in which an application for spousal maintenance must be awarded, which is different for divorced and separated de facto couples.
For divorce, spousal maintenance must be awarded within twelve months of the divorce.
For de-facto separation, this period is twenty-four months. However, an issue does arise in de facto separations where it is difficult to agree upon the precise date of separation. In such an instance, the Family Court will consider evidence presented by the parties such as photos, financial documents, witness statements and anything else relevant.
In What Situations Would The Court Approve An Application For Spousal Maintenance?
There are many situations in which the eligibility for spousal maintenance can be established. These situations and considerations include;
- The party may be too old or unhealthy to support themselves
- The financial position of each party
- Whether the payment can help the person receiving it re-establish themselves by pursuing further education, seeking employment or any training
- Whether the party receiving the payment has the mental capacity to provide for themselves or obtain employment financially
- The commitments of either party
- The responsibility of the party receiving the payment to support another person
- To maintain a reasonable standard of living that the receiver of the payment has been accustomed to
- Whether an order for spousal maintenance will cause financial hardship to the person paying
- To allow the person receiving the payment to continue their role as a parent, especially when young children are involved.
- Whether the party potentially paying the spousal maintenance is already paying or will be paying any child support in the future.
- The earning capacity of both individuals
- Whether the party receiving the spousal maintenance is cohabitating with another person and the financial situation around their living arrangement
- Any superannuation fund or scheme either party has in place
- The court may also take into consideration anything else
This is not a comprehensive list by any means, and there are many more situations in which spousal maintenance orders may be granted. To determine whether you may be eligible, please discuss this matter with a family law professional.
How To Make A Claim For Spousal Maintenance
If any of the reasons listed above apply to you, or if you believe you may qualify for a grant of spousal maintenance. Your next step should be to contact a family lawyer and discuss your situation, and upon their advice, if they believe your case has any merits, they will assist you with the application process.
Importance of Seeking Legal Advice
It is important to note when asking the question of ‘What is alimony?’ to remember that we do not have alimony in Australia. This is because our equivalent to alimony is the concept of spousal maintenance. Similarly to alimony, spousal maintenance should be sought out when you are experienced financial difficulty following a divorce or separation. I
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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