In almost all divorces the matter of finances, and specifically spousal support, is bound to arise, and given that this will impact significantly on both spouses’ futures, the importance of having family lawyers represent for this them is clear. That applies whether they are the spouse who will be paying spousal support or the one who will be receiving it.
Applying for spousal support can be done by someone who is married and getting a divorce, or it can be done by someone who was in a de facto relationship. This means that they were not actually married to their ex-partner, however, within Australian family law, couples in a de facto relationship have many of the same rights and protections as those who are married.
There is no amount of time that has to pass until one of the spouses is entitled to receive spousal support. In other words, they have a right to apply for it, from the day that they separate. It is often the case that the partner who has the greater finances believes that they do not have to start paying spousal support until after they are divorced, but as their family lawyer will them, that is not true.
If someone does not apply right away, or if their divorce proceeds without them doing also, they do not have unlimited time to apply. In fact, an application for spousal support must be made within 1 year of their divorce being finalised. In the case of a de facto relationship, where there is obviously no divorce date, the date of separation is used to start the clock, however, the time limit is two years and not one.
For someone to receive, and conversely, for someone to be liable to pay, spousal support, there are a number of circumstances that need to apply. The primary one is normally that the couple each have different financial positions with regards to their incomes and their outgoings.
It is often the case that one partner earns significantly more than the other, and of course, when there are children within the marriage, the issue of finances will obviously need to take into account, but bear in mind, spousal support is not the same as child support. Usually, child support is considered as a separate amount based on a parent’s obligation to support their children, even if they do not live with them.
This fact often causes confusion, but it simply means that child support is payable to ensure that the parent with whom the children live has sufficient funds for their well-being. Spousal support is the money paid by one spouse to support their ex-spouse. In other words, spousal support does not depend on there being any children in the marriage.
The calculation of spousal support takes into account multiple factors such as income, assets, financial commitments, outgoings, age, employment prospects, and what might be considered a reasonable standard of living, based on all the circumstances.
Once assessed a court will grant spousal support, citing a figure which has to be paid to the payee spouse by the spouse making the payments, and it may also state the length of time that it has to be paid. In some cases, this can be specified in terms of the number of years, or it could also be left open, so that it is paid continuously, unless any subsequent amendments are made.