There are two kinds of maintenance – the well known ﬁnancial responsibility for ‘child support’, and the lesser known ‘spousal maintenance’. An understanding of these obligations is an essential part of a family law matter.
This is a little known area of family law that doesn’t arise in all cases. Whether parties were married or defacto (including same sex) the Family Law Act, 1975, enables spousal maintenance orders to be
made. This usually applies in situations where one party has a high income and the other has a very low income or none at all. These orders provide for:
A payment to the spouse – usually weekly
The payment to continue for a speciﬁed period
This payment to be in addition to any child support obligations.
There are time limits within which you need to apply for spousal maintenance but the closer to separation it is the better the chances of an order being made.
It is advisable to apply to the Child Support Agency (the “CSA”) for an “assessment” of child support as soon after separating as you can. You can elect to have the CSA collect it for you or you and your spouse can arrange payment between yourselves. There should always be a record/receipt kept for any payments made directly.
It is possible to have the basic assessment varied in certain limited circumstances – for example to take into account private school fees. In this case it is very important that both parents agreed to the private schooling. CMC Family Lawyers can assist in negotiating and preparing private agreements – called Binding Child Support Agreements.