Spousal Maintenance: Understanding the Common Legal Issues Involved

1 February 2018
 Categories: Law, Blog


You should understand the different issues involved in spousal maintenance if you are planning on separating from your spouse or getting a divorce. The same rules apply to couples in de facto relationships. Spousal maintenance can be defined as the responsibility or obligation to support a former spouse financially. 

You should note that this form of support is different from child maintenance. In general, spousal maintenance is imposed if one party is incapable of supporting themselves and the other can provide the financial payment. If you are concerned about spousal maintenance, you should consider this short discussion on the common legal issues.

Financial Agreements and Orders

Under ideal circumstances, you should create a financial agreement with your former spouse during the property settlement process. This action will ensure that the monetary issues are resolved at the same time. It is advisable to reach an agreement on spousal maintenance before going to court. If you cannot agree between yourselves, you should look for a dispute resolution centre. 

The professionals might be able to help you have an amicable agreement. If you still cannot meet eye-to-eye, you can apply for a financial order from the court. If you want financial support from your former spouse, you must show that you require maintenance and the other party has the capacity to pay. The court will evaluate the situation and make a fair decision.

Application Time Limits

If you are planning on applying for a financial order from the court for spousal maintenance, you should be aware of the time limits imposed on the process. Lack of restrictions awareness could cause the rejection of the applications. Typically, if you are only separated, you can present your request for financial support at any time. 

However, after the divorce, there will only be a short period in which you can make your claim. The exact period will depend on your state or territory of residence. Different restrictions will apply to a de facto relationship. You should note that it is possible to apply outside of the time limit if you have special circumstances. Consult a qualified lawyer who works in family law for advice.

End of Maintenance

The regular payments for spousal maintenance will stop if the person receiving the money gets married again. However, there are other circumstances which can cause the same results. For example, if the individual's financial situation improves due to better earnings or a new relationship, the payments might stop. You can make a court application to end the spousal maintenance.