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Maintenance in Family Law – will this apply to me?

Family Law

The answer to this depends on the circumstances as to whether maintenance could be paid to you or paid by you.

The question of whether maintenance should be paid or received is generally considered once the terms of the property settlement are known.

It can be payable when the party seeking it is unable to be self-supporting and the liable party can, after paying their own reasonable expenses, afford to pay it.

Spousal maintenance can be in the form of a lump sum or in the form of payments over a period of time or up to a specific amount.

Maintenance can also be useful in asset poor or income rich settlements, but this still requires that the party seeking it meets the threshold requirements under the Family Law Act and the court makes the order having considered the legal factors it is required to including the reasonableness in the circumstances and whether it is ‘proper’ to order it.

Maintenance can be documented in a court order including by consent or a financial agreement. Each has their own benefits and risks.

Maintenance can be on a short-term (or interim basis), it can be paid to the recipient or on their behalf for example the mortgage repayments, or in the form of a lump sum to be used for legal expenses in a litigated proceeding.

Spousal maintenance is different from child maintenance.  The party seeking maintenance needs to be careful to not include the children’s expenses which they pay for, however some expenses will overlap, such as the payment of utility bills and household, housing costs and living expenses.

If you are concerned that you may be liable to pay spousal maintenance or may be eligible to receive it, please contact Annabel Murray, Accredited Specialist in Family Law.

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