When a married couple gets a divorce, their income is going to vastly change because they will no longer combine their salaries for day-to-day expenses. If this puts a burden on one of the soon-to-be ex-spouses, they may be able to collect support from their former spouse. Even if the couple never married, one of them may still be able to collect support if it’s warranted.
Types of Support
There are two types of spousal maintenance that the courts consider when couples legally separate or divorce: spousal maintenance and de facto partner maintenance. Each one features its own set of rules.
An ex-spouse may be able to collect financial support from a former husband or wife if they cannot support themselves after the divorce.
De Facto Partner Maintenance
If the couple was in a de facto relationship, then a former de facto partner may be ordered to pay support to the other partner if they cannot adequately support themselves.
What is a De Facto Relationship?
A de facto relationship is one in which two people, who may be either the same or opposite sex, lived together as a domestic couple. They may not have been married, but they shared a home, combined their incomes, and may have even raised children together. Usually a de facto relationship is one that has lasted at least two years.
Considerations for Support
Court ordered financial support is designed to be a temporary measure until the person can start supporting him or herself. In order to receive support, family lawyers must file petitions within 12 months of divorces being finalised. In de facto relationships, a petition must be filed within two years of the break-up of the relationship.
When they receive a petition, the court will take into consideration the:
- Ages of the couple.
- Health of the parties.
- Each person’s ability to work.
- What is considered a suitable living standard.
- Ability to earn an income.
- Care of a disabled child or another adult.
Most orders for spousal maintenance will be for no greater than two years. During the time that support is received, the party must seek employment or be re-trained so they can support themselves after the support order expires. The decision for support can be made for either party, regardless of their gender. So an ex-wife could conceptually be required to pay support for an ex-husband in some cases.
An attorney can file the petition for spouse or de facto partner maintenance for you and help present your case to the court. The process can be confusing and, since there is a time limit for filing, you need to consult with an attorney to help you seek the support that is needed. If you have children, you can also seek support for them, but that is a separate issue because child support usually lasts until minors turn 18.
If you have divorced or separated from a partner and you do not make enough money to support yourself, consult with a lawyer about filing for support while you are seeking employment or re-training to find a better job.