Spousal maintenance can be paid as a periodic and ongoing sum to assist the one party with their day to day living costs. It can however, in appropriate cases, be paid as a lump sum pursuant to section 77(A) (for married couples) and 90SH (for de facto parties) of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). A lump sum will generally only be ordered if there is a need for it or in the event that it appears one party has acted in a way to minimise the asset pool or otherwise avoid their obligation to pay the other party.

Spousal maintenance orders can be made on a final basis following a contested final hearing or by consent for a period of time for property settlement. However, the need of the one party for that ongoing financial assistance must be finely balanced against the need to provide a clean financial break to each of the parties following their separation and property settlement. Generally speaking, rather than orders being made for ongoing spousal maintenance following final property settlement orders being made, it would be preferable for one party to receive an adjustment in their favour to make up for their ‘future needs’ under section of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), and give some recognition to the fact that one party may, one reason or another, have a depressed income earning capacity as a result of decisions made by the parties during the relationship as to the division of work in the intact relationship. If you need advice about spousal maintenance, do not hesitate to contact us.