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Financial Security Post-Divorce: Spousal Maintenance and Divorce Lawyers’ Guidance

by | Mar 1, 2024 | Family Law

One aspect of family law that can be overlooked by both clients and divorce lawyers alike is that of spousal maintenance (sometimes referred to as alimony).

A family law divorce property settlement will involve many aspects, including dividing up assets (houses, investments, shares, businesses, livestock, cash savings, cryptocurrency, and debts) and superannuation (whether self-managed or through a fund). In addition, spousal maintenance should be considered by all good divorce lawyers in Melbourne and beyond.

Spousal maintenance involves an assessment of parties’ needs and capacities. What sounds like a potentially complex task is actually pretty straightforward. Take your income, then deduct your reasonable weekly expenses. These shouldn’t be lavish but in accordance with the general level of lifestyle led during the relationship, and include:

  1.    Food and household items
  2.    Mortgage instalments and rates
  3.    Rental costs
  4.    Occasional eating out
  5.    Electricity, gas and water costs
  6.    Internet and phone costs
  7.    Petrol, car tolls and maintenance
  8.    Regular subscriptions (your Netflix or music subscription for example)
  9.    Any education expenses
  10.    Child support expenses you pay
  11.    Expenses you pay for others’ benefit

If your income after deducting your expenses is negative, you have a ‘need.’ If your income after this calculation is positive, you have a ‘capacity.’ If one party in a separated relationship has a need and the other a capacity, then you may be eligible to receive or pay maintenance for a period of time (in most cases during the course of negotiations until a final settlement, but in some situations for longer).

The devil is always in the details, of course, and your specific circumstances (such as irregular business income, other sources of income, extraordinary expenses, medical conditions, or if there are no assets, just a need for support) should be discussed with one of our divorce lawyers in Melbourne. Call us on 03 9614 7111 or email melbourne@nevettford.com.au to get in touch and see how we are able to assist you today.