Sometimes referred to as “alimony” in other jurisdictions.
Spousal Maintenance is not Child Support, or Adult Child Maintenance which is often confused.
Relatively uncommon in the Australian jurisdiction, in the sense that the courts have a responsibility to effect a ‘clean-break’ of the financial relationship between two parties under the Family Law Act. The ongoing payment of spousal maintenance has the effect of continuing the financial relationship of the parties and in those circumstances it is often considered appropriate by the courts to account for spousal maintenance by way of a lump-sum or capitalised sum.
Interim Spousal Maintenance
Awarded by courts early in a separation for a defined period of time to give the financially weaker party a ‘leg-up’ and re-establish themselves financially, especially if their ability to earn income is significantly lesser than the other party. If interim spousal maintenance is awarded it does not mean that a court will necessary consider it appropriate for that to continue as a final order.
Where one party can afford to maintain the other party it is sometimes reasonable to expect that the financially weaker party should be able to maintain the standard of living they enjoyed during the relationship.
More commonly occurs in the context of one party being responsible for the payment of a mortgage in the interim to ensure that children have a home to live in.