Separation And Divorce
Spousal maintenance (alimony in other countries) is payable by one party in a marriage or de facto relationship to the other, usually only after separation, if the first party cannot support themselves adequately and the other party has the means to provide that support (Family Law Act Section 72 Family Court Act Section 205ZC). This financial support was more common when many women were usually at home caring for children full time and had not been in the workforce because they were full-time homemakers when separation occurred.
Spousal maintenance can be sought by any party who was dependent on the other party. Spousal maintenance can and should (if the person is eligible) be obtained before the 12 months separation has occurred.
The legal costs of seeking spousal maintenance on its own (that is, without a financial settlement) will be high so it is usually best for spousal maintenance to be asked for with an application for settlement, e.g., for the house to be transferred or a property or business to be sold and for the weekly payment of spousal maintenance to be made. The financial settlement details may not be worked out for some time, and possibly until trial, but the spousal maintenance can be decided by the court on an interim basis.
While in the past spousal maintenance was often paid for the rest of a person’s life, it is most usual now for spousal maintenance to be payable for a fixed period. In that time, it is intended that the person getting the spousal maintenance can retrain or otherwise become able to support themselves.
At Bowen Buchbinder Vilensky we will assess the value of spousal maintenance carefully for our client, if they are the party who likely qualifies for it, and if our client is being asked to pay spousal maintenance, to find the means to make this obligation one that will be short-term.