A marriage breakdown can form an extremely stressful time in your life. Besides from the emotional turmoil you will be going through, there are all the legal aspects which need to be taken into consideration, such as childcare and the splitting of your assets. One thing that seems to be constantly hitting the headlines is spousal maintenance. This is separate from any child maintenance, and involves a fee that must be paid from one partner to the other for their upkeep. For the paying party, this can be a difficult concept to accept and understand, but for the payable party it may form an essential part of their life following the relationship breakup. Here are some points to help explain this complex law.
- Your Duty Beyond Marriage
Many people are unaware that their legal duty to support their spouse continues beyond the breakdown of the marriage or civil partnership. Whilst spousal maintenance is not applicable in every case, in certain circumstances it will be considered necessary by the examining judge. Where a clean break of assets is not considered to be a fair approach, the financially stronger partner may be ordered to pay ongoing maintenance to support the weaker partner’s needs.The maintenance requirement is designed to enable the financially weaker party to transition smoothly to independence. If you are unsure whether this situation will apply to your relationship, there are family lawyers in Sydney who will be able to provide advice and guidance on this matter.
- When Is Spousal Maintenance Applicable?
If one partner’s life has been dramatically changed by the marriage, then this will be taken into consideration when considering whether spousal maintenance is payable. For example, if a husband or wife gave up a promising career to pursue childcare or to maintain the household then these factors will be points of concern. Furthermore, if one partner changed the course of their career in order to support the ambitions of their partner, they may no longer be in a position to return to their previous situation. In these cases, it may be judged as fair to make up for their loss of earnings through payment of a maintenance fee.If the recipient of spousal maintenance remarries at any point, then all payments will automatically cease.
- How Much Are You Required To Pay?
This varies widely from case to case, and the decision will be a product of your specific circumstances and needs. The court will require a detailed breakdown of you and your partner’s projected future outgoings, which will need to be justified in order for “need” to be assessed. Each party’s expected expenditures will be taken into consideration and balanced against one another to assess whether they are reasonable and whether they are on equal footing or not.
Spousal maintenance is a complicated concept, but one that can be an integral part of your breakup process. The court will do all it can to make a fair judgement and ensure that each party is cared for following the end of the marriage.