If your relationship breaks down, then you may find that your income is reduced. In some circumstances, this may also mean that you’re unable to support yourself. When one party in a relationship is unable to support themselves financially, then there may be a need for one party to pay spouse maintenance.
In this blog post, we will cover what spouse maintenance is, the circumstances where spousal maintenance may be granted and how it is determined whether someone has the capacity to pay spousal maintenance.
What is Spouse Maintenance?
Spouse maintenance means that one party from a relationship is responsible for topping up any income or providing income for the other party after the relationship ends. Spouse maintenance is generally a short-term solution paid over 2-3 years.
The aim of spouse maintenance is for the party receiving the maintenance to be able to re-establish themselves financially following the breakdown of the relationship.
Under What Circumstances is Spouse Maintenance Granted?
The law relating to spouse maintenance is found in section 72 of the Family Law Act. Section 75 (2) of the Family Law Act specifically looks at the division of property. Whether spouse maintenance is granted depends on two main factors:
- Whether the spouse requiring support can provide evidence that they are unable to support themselves adequately, including if they have a child from the relationship they need to care for or they cannot work
- Whether the spouse providing the maintenance has the capacity to do so
When judging whether spouse maintenance should be granted, the Family Law Act says the following factors should be considered:
- The age of the parties involved
- The income and financial resources of both parties
- The physical and mental capacity of the parties to work
- Whether either party has child support payments or needs to look after the child
- Whether the duration of the relationship affected the earning capacity of one of the parties
- Whether either party is receiving other financial support or is living with someone else who is now providing financial support
As you can see, decisions around the granting of spouse maintenance are complex. As a result, you should seek legal advice before taking your matter to the courts.
Do I Have the Capacity to Pay Spouse Maintenance?
Unless there is a significant disparity in the incomes of you and your partner, then it is rare that a maintenance agreement will be granted. However, it is possible, particularly if one spouse gave up work in order to provide child care. In order to claim spouse maintenance, your spouse must be able to provide significant evidence that they are unable to support themselves adequately. To work out whether you or your spouse may need to support the other following separation, you should consider:
- What income both of you have from various sources, such as work and pensions
- What you’re currently paying for and what you’ll soon be paying for individually, such as rent
- Any expenses you have for children, such as child care costs
If you find that one spouse has a level of income that is less than their outgoings, then you should seek legal advice about your particular circumstances. At Life Law Solutions, we’re experts in family law. We understand that a lot of information can be overwhelming without advice and guidance, which is why we tailor our advice to your dispute. Contact us today to see how we can help with your dispute.