Divorce and Spousal Maintenance
f you and your spouse have separated permanently then either of you may obtain a Divorce Order ending your marriage if certain conditions are met. These conditions are:
- That you and your spouse have been separated for at least 12 months; and
- If you and your spouse have children then there are proper future living arrangements for them. This includes where they will live, the school they will attend and how their financial needs will be met.
If the above 2 conditions are met then a Court will make an order ending your marriage to your spouse.
There are some important things to know about when you and your spouse are divorced. Divorce not only ends the marriage but starts a “time clock” running for you or your spouse to deal with your financial affairs. For example, you may not be able to pay for your weekly living expenses from your own income. The reasons for this often arise from the circumstances of your marriage such as you staying at home or working lesser hours to look after the children or poor health preventing you from working. If you cannot pay for all of your weekly living expenses then you may be able to obtain assistance from your spouse. This is what is referred to as spousal maintenance.
The “time clock” is 12 months from date you and your spouse are divorced. This means that you or your spouse have 12 months to work out if either of you is to pay spousal maintenance to the other and if no agreement can be reached then the one who who needs spousal maintenance must have started court proceedings asking the Court to make an order for spousal maintenance. If you need spousal maintenance and have not reached an agreement with your spouse or started court proceedings asking for it within 12 months from the date of your Divorce Order then you have lost your right to do so unless the Court allows you to proceed. You should never assume that the Court will allow an application for spousal maintenance to to go ahead if it is started 12 months after a Divorce Order is made ending your marriage to your spouse. You do not want to lose your right to have financial assistance particularly if your need it.
WHERE TO NEXT?
Taking the next step and contacting a family lawyer can be scary. Our lawyers will make you feel comfortable so you can talk about your situation. But first, ask yourself, Do I really need a lawyer?