Spousal maintenance lawyers – 25 years’ experience in spousal maintenance matters.

Spousal maintenance
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Ensuring your interests are protected

Following a relationship breakdown, whether it is a marriage or de facto relationship, it is important to move forward on terms where both parties can adequately support themselves financially.

Spousal maintenance

Resolving your spousal maintenance matters

Who is eligible for spousal maintenance in Western Australia?

Spousal maintenance is available to both married couples and de facto relationships. Married couples can apply under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth.). De facto couples in Western Australia can apply under the Family Court Act 1997 (WA). 

Is there a time limit to bring an application?

Yes, if you were married, maintenance must be applied for within 12 months from the date your Australian divorce order takes effect. However, if you were in a de facto relationship with your partner, you have two years from the date of separation to apply for maintenance.

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Leading spousal maintenance lawyers

The right to claim and the right to be protected

Although spousal maintenance is a separate issue from your family law property settlement, these two matters are related.

If you are in the process of formalising your family law property settlement, you may also need to include provisions dealing with spousal maintenance. This can be lump sum spousal maintenance (once off payment that is part of your financial settlement) and/or periodic spousal maintenance (e.g. weekly payments for a period of time).

On the other hand, you may want to ensure you are protected from a future spousal maintenance claim against you. Depending on your particular circumstances, spousal maintenance can be formalised either as part of your property court orders or as part of a binding financial agreement.

Each of these options must be carefully considered when deciding the best option for you particularly as each option has its own legal requirements that must be complied with.

There is no substitute for experience. Perth Divorce Lawyers is here to help.

Why

Perth Divorce Lawyers

First consultation

Contact us to arrange a fixed fee consultation with no ongoing obligation. You decide the scope of our involvement in your matter, whether that be once off legal advice or ongoing legal representation.

We investigate, we listen

We give your matter the attention it deserves. We pride ourselves on providing our clients with the highest standard of representation – no matter how simple or complex your matter, it is our priority.

Exceptional client care

We understand that every client is unique. We take the time to get to know you and your situation. We are transparent, approachable and here to help, structuring our legal services to best suit your needs.

Your case is handled by experienced senior lawyers

You can rely on consistent legal representation. Work with the same experienced lawyer every step of the way.

We are a boutique family law firm

As a boutique law firm, we can give your matter the attention it deserves. We thrive on matters that are complex or that require a different approach.

Your outcome is our priority

Perth Divorce Lawyers is a results-driven family law firm. We are here to help. Let us navigate you toward a time and cost-effective resolution.

Spousal maintenance process

Protecting what you value most

The legal process of separation and divorce can be overwhelming. When dividing assets and liabilities of the relationship, it can be difficult to know what to do next. 

You want to protect your assets and make sure that you are getting what you are legally entitled to. You may also need help to pay your living expenses after separation. 

You should seek legal advice to address any financial hardship you may be experiencing following the breakdown of your relationship. Our lawyers are here to help you successfully get through the process. 

Types of spousal maintenance

Maintenance can be paid on an urgent basis and if not urgent then on an interim and/or final basis.

Negotiation and/or Mediation

Where possible, we encourage clients to reach a negotiated outcome. Lawyer assisted negotiations and/or mediation are valuable options available to our clients.

Settlement

Spousal maintenance can be documented with an Application for Consent Orders (including property) or a binding financial agreement.

Application to the Family Court of Western Australia

If you are unable to reach an out-of-court settlement on your spousal maintenance matter, Court could be necessary. To start defended proceedings (including maintenance) in the Family Court of WA.

Claiming spousal maintenance – tips & advice

Simplifying spousal maintenance

01
Collect all your financial documents

Keep a record of what you spend for a month and remember to include bills you only pay once a year. Be realistic about what you need and what the other party can afford to pay you.

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02
Seek the appropriate legal advice

Legal advice early on can save a lot of time and heartache down the track. There is no substitute for experience. Our lawyers have more than 25 years’ experience in all areas of family law.

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03
Time limits apply

Married parties have 12 months from when their Australian divorce order takes effect & de facto parties in WA have 2 years from the date of separation to bring a claim.

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Take the proces one step at a time

We understand that bringing a spousal maintenance claim can be stressful. Rest assured these matters can be resolved. With our experience, we will guide you through the process.

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Testimonials

Satisfied clients

Client

Ballajura, WA
Annelie Van Zyl provided me with excellent legal service. Going through a divorce including property settlement, I didn’t know what to expect. Aside from her obvious skill and remarkable success rate, Mrs. Van Zyl is genuinely committed to her clients. …

Client

Hocking, WA
I approached Perth Divorce Lawyers as I was referred by a good friend and colleague and needed specialised assistance with my Family Court matter. Perth Divorce Lawyers helped me though the complex process of my matters. As there were a number of issues there was a lot of preparation before the hear…

Client

Perth, WA
I approached Perth Divorce Lawyers because I required assistance with my Family Court proceedings mainly requiring legal assistance with parenting and financial matters including the preparation of my will and divorce matters.Perth Divorce Lawyers helped me by providing sound legal advice, complet…

Client

Aveley, WA
Under difficult and emotional circumstances I received expert guidance throughout the legal process. Yes, it is expensive that I can’t deny though in retrospect my final settlement and fees were better than forecast. The decision to choose Annelie and pursue a fair share of assets was without doubt …

FAQs

In Western Australia parties who are or were at some time married to each other come under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) whereas parties who were never married come under the Family Court Act 1997 (WA).  Although these Acts are very similar, they are not the same and there are some important differences.   For instance, the time limit for commencing property and/or spousal maintenance proceedings is different.  For married parties this is 12 months from the date an Australian divorce order takes effect and for de facto spouses this is two years from the date of separation.

Separation generally means living apart from each other.  One spouse can initiate this on their own or it can be decided mutually.  If you continue to live in the same house to obtain a divorce order you will also need to file extra evidence to establish that you were separated and from which date.  This is because you need to establish that you have been separated for at least 12 months.  If there is no agreement about the date of separation and the Court needs to decide that date it will take into account a range of factors to determine when you separated.

In Australia you can only apply for a divorce order when you have been separated for at least 12 months.  There are other requirements you must meet.  You will need a copy of your marriage certificate but there may be other documents required (e.g. citizenship certificate) depending on your circumstances.

 Don’t worry.  You don’t need your partner to agree to the divorce order being made.  If other issues arise because you are not able to serve them or even find them, we can help.

In determining spousal maintenance in Western Australia, the courts undertake a comprehensive analysis that encompasses a range of factors. These include, but are not limited to:

  • The financial needs and resources of both parties.
  • The age and health of both individuals.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The ability of the applicant to self-sustain, particularly if they are responsible for a child under 18 from the marriage.

Moreover, the courts take into account the lifestyle maintained during the marriage, and duly consider the contributions made by each party, not only financially but also through homemaking and parenting responsibilities. This thorough evaluation ensures that the maintenance awarded is both fair and equitable.

The duration of spousal maintenance can vary greatly, as it is primarily determined on a case-by-case basis. It could be awarded for a specific period, perhaps to allow the other party to regain financial stability, or until certain conditions are met, like the remarriage of the receiving spouse or the completion of a training or educational program to enhance employment prospects.

In some cases, spousal maintenance might be granted as a lump-sum payment instead of periodic payments. It is always recommended to consult with a legal expert to understand the potential duration that may apply in your specific circumstances.

Firstly, you’d want to gather all necessary documents that prove the non-payment, just to have a strong foundation for your case. Then, you have the option of lodging an enforcement application with the Family Court of Western Australia. The court has the power to enforce the order in several ways; they can issue a garnishee order to redirect the payments from their employer or even from their bank account directly to you.

Before heading to court, you might also want to consider discussing the matter with your ex-spouse informally or through mediation, if possible. Sometimes, a resolution can be reached without involving the court, saving both time and resources.

In many cases, if the person receiving the spousal maintenance gets remarried, the obligation for spousal maintenance often ceases. Cohabitation can also potentially impact the spousal maintenance, though it’s a bit more nuanced. The court might look into factors like the financial arrangements in the new relationship, how long they have been living together, and how the new relationship affects the financial needs of the person receiving the maintenance.

If the paying spouse hits a financial rough patch, like losing their job or experiencing a notable dip in their income, it can indeed affect the spousal maintenance arrangement. The paying spouse can approach the court to seek a modification to the original order, maybe to lessen the amount they need to pay temporarily or permanently, depending on the circumstances.

But, keep in mind, the court always tries to strike a balance – they’d look into the financial needs of the person receiving the maintenance as well before making any decisions.

Couples have the flexibility to draft prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, which are technically known as Binding Financial Agreements (BFAs), where they can stipulate the financial arrangements they prefer, including waiving rights to spousal maintenance.

It’s quite a nuanced process and the court’s aim is to ensure that all financial obligations, including child support and spousal maintenance, are balanced and reasonable for both parties.

It’s crucial to note that appeals are usually based on grounds of legal errors or incorrect facts assumed by the court, not simply because you’re unhappy with the decision.

To initiate an appeal, you would need to file a Notice of Appeal, generally within 28 days from the date the order was made. This process can be a bit intricate, as you would be required to clearly detail the grounds on which you are basing your appeal, presenting arguments that establish how the initial judgement was flawed and legal advice is highly recommended in these circumstances.

If there’s a significant change in circumstances – like a substantial change in income, a serious illness, or maybe even a new marriage or cohabitation situation, the affected party can approach the court to seek a modification of the existing spousal maintenance order.

But, to get a modification, you need to clearly demonstrate that the change in circumstances is substantial and makes the existing order unreasonable.

You will need to file an application with the Family Court of Western Australia to vary the maintenance order. This application should clearly set out the change in circumstances and explain why a modification is necessary.