Alimony is another word for spousal maintenance. This is the money that a husband or wife may pay to their spouse after separation or divorce. It is called different things in different countries, including spousal support or aliment. Its purpose is for the financial support of the former spouse when that person cannot adequately support themselves.
Spousal maintenance often makes up part of the property settlement after a relationship has ended to ensure that the division of property is just and equitable. Usually, alimony or spousal maintenance is a single lump-sum payment or series of periodical payments made by a person to their former spouse.
There is a time limit for when you can make an application for spousal maintenance. A person can apply for spousal maintenance from their spouse immediately after separation. From there, de facto couples have two years in which to file a spousal maintenance application. Married couples have until one year after the finalisation of their divorce.
After these dates, you must seek the court’s permission to apply for spousal maintenance payments. When deciding whether to make an order in favour of spousal maintenance, the court considers the applicant’s needs and the respondent’s capacity to pay. For both people, the court looks at age, health, income-earning capacity, current income and financial resources, what is a suitable standard of living and with whom any children of the relationship live.
In terms of periodical payments, the court is unlikely to order that a person will receive these indefinitely. For example, a person is no longer entitled to receive spousal maintenance if they get married, although the court still has the authority to make an order for spousal maintenance.
If a person starts a new de facto relationship, the court will look at the financial aspect of that relationship when determining whether the person can support themselves.