How Is Spousal Maintenance Awarded?

When a marriage or de facto relationship ends, one spouse may be required by law to pay financial support to their former partner. The weekly or monthly payments of support paid by a party to a marriage to their former spouse is called spousal maintenance. It can continue for a defined term of years or throughout the remainder of the recipient's life and will end when the recipient gets married again. 

There's no set formula for calculating spousal maintenance in all situations. How much spousal maintenance you are entitled to receive or may be required to pay depends on a variety of factors. 

Take a look at the factors that family law courts may take into account in determining if you should pay or receive spousal maintenance and how much payment you should make or receive.

The care and welfare of any minor children of the relationship.

Spousal maintenance differs from child support. While child support is paid for the benefit of any children resulting from a marriage or de facto relationship, spousal maintenance is paid for the benefit of a party that needs financial support after the dissolution of their marriage or civil partnership.

That said, the party responsible for the care welfare of the children may need to receive financial support from their former partner, especially if they can't actively generate an income due to their parental roles.

How much financial support they may be entitled to receive may depend on how much of their time and effort they commit to the care and welfare of the children. 

The age and health of the parties involved.

The age and health of the partners are important considerations because they affect their income-generating capacities. Old age and poor health reduce a party's capacity for gainful employment or other income-generating activities, thus reducing their capacity to pay maintenance to their former spouse.

The financial position of both parties.

Where both parties stand financially after the dissolution of their marriage or civil partnership can also influence the decision on whether spousal maintenance is warranted. In this regard, the courts may consider the standard of living enjoyed while the relationship still existed. Are both parties able to maintain the same lifestyle they had during the relationship? If not, the well-off party may be required to financially support their former partner.

The courts have wide discretion in relation to the amount of spousal maintenance they can award a party to a marriage. The factors they may take into consideration are not limited or closed to the ones discussed above.

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