What is Alimony

Alimony is the money that a husband or wife pays their spouse after separation or divorce, for financial support, in the event that their former spouse cannot adequately support themselves.

It is usually part of a property settlement after a couple separates or divorces and can be either a single lump-sum payment to the other ex-spouse or a series of periodic payments.

Alimony is referred to as different names in different countries, but it is essentially the same thing as spousal maintenance.

Its other names include spousal support or aliment.


When can you apply for alimony?


There is a time limit for when you can apply for alimony or 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.

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.


Duration of spousal maintenance payments


If spousal maintenance is in the form of a lump-sump payment, then it is clear that alimony will end after the first payment.

But, when it is in the form of periodical payments, then there is the question of how long these payments ought to continue for.

The court is unlikely to order that a person will receive these indefinitely.

A person loses their entitlement to spousal maintenance when 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.