The Family Law Act is founded on the expectation that spousal maintenance between former partners is an ongoing arrangement. The extent of the support is dependent on whether or not a party is capable of meeting his or her own reasonable needs and whether or not the responding party has the capacity to meet those needs.
In determining the fairest and most equitable outcome for both parties, the Court will consider the general principles outlined in s 79(4) and s 85(2) of the Family Law Act.
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Spousal maintenance is not assumed or automatic. Rather, it is a statutory element that ought to be considered as part of an overall settlement of financial matters. Parties ought to consider principles in reaching an agreement outside of court prior to making a claim for spousal maintenance orders.
When may the application be made?
An application for the division of property or the payment of spousal maintenance should be made within 12 months of the date the divorce order becomes effective. If the time stipulation is not met, applications of a financial nature will only then be considered by the Courts if one of the parties consents to the application regarding property or spousal maintenance or if the court grants leave for the application being filed out of the time.
Another aspect of divorce orders that parties ought to be aware of is that depending on the State in which you live, an order for divorce may have the effect of renouncing a gift of property or appointment of trusteeship made in a Will that was intended to be for a partner. However, the same appropriation in other States may revoke the entire Will once a divorce order is effective.
It is important to seek professional advice in your State once the order takes effect, so that your intended wishes for your estate (on your passing) are dealt with in accordance with your trusting intentions.