A Guide to Spousal Maintenance and Child Support in Victoria

A Guide to Spousal Maintenance and Child Support in Victoria

Navigating a divorce is a trying time. There are so many legal procedures and documents to overview, assets to divide...

December 13, 2023

Navigating a divorce is a trying time. There are so many legal procedures and documents to overview, assets to divide, and processes to establish. One of those is determining how much child support and partner maintenance will be paid.

If you are in need of a child support guide, then we have put together some information to get you started. and if you want to find out more , then our helpful team of family lawyers is here to help you along the way from start to finish. To ensure the best outcome for you and your future, ensure you get the right advice and talk to one of our family law practitioners today.

What Is Alimony and How Is It Different to Spousal Maintenance?

Alimony is simply another word for spousal maintenance. This is the American term, and there is no difference between this and partner maintenance.

What Is Spousal Maintenance?

Spousal maintenance, also known as spousal maintenance or alimony, is a financial arrangement in family law where one partner provides financial support to the other following the dissolution of a marriage or de facto relationship. Its purpose is to address the economic disparity that may arise when one partner is financially dependent on the other after separation or divorce.

The court may order spousal maintenance if one party lacks the means to support themselves adequately and the other has the financial capacity to contribute. The amount and duration of maintenance can vary widely and are typically determined based on factors such as the parties' respective incomes, financial needs, age, health, and the duration of the relationship.

Division of property and financial support is also applied to de facto relationships. For property and maintenance issues, the couple must be in a de facto relationship for at least two years or a child is born out of their de facto relationship.

Spousal maintenance is designed to ensure that the financially disadvantaged spouse can maintain a reasonable standard of living post-separation, and it aims to facilitate their financial independence over time. It is a complex area of family law, often requiring legal counsel and careful consideration of individual circumstances.

How Are These Amounts Determined?

If you believe you cannot provide for yourself financially and your spouse makes significantly more money than you, you can apply for spousal maintenance. The Court analyses an applicant's needs as well as the respondent's ability to pay, and takes into account both your age and health, income, property, and financial resources.

After making this assessment, the Court will determine an amount that they believe is suitable for your unique situation. This payment is then conducted on a regular basis, such as weekly payments.

Remember that each relationship, separation, and divorce is unique, so the amount of spousal maintenance one person receives will differ from the next person.

Understanding Child Support

If you and your spouse have children, child support is another factor you will need to consider in your divorce or separation. If you are not too sure what it is, here is some information to get you started:

What Is Child Support?

Child support is a legal and financial obligation that a non-custodial parent or guardian is required to pay to the custodial parent or guardian for the financial well-being of their children. It ensures that children receive a proper level of financial support from their parents, aiming for children to have an equitable share in the income, property, and resources of both parents. It is crucial regardless of whether the parents are married, divorced, separated, or never lived together.

The Purpose of Child Support

The purpose of child support is to prioritise the child's needs over all other commitments of the parents, except those necessary for the support of the parent and any other children. This includes ensuring that the child receives adequate financial support for their basic needs, including housing, food, clothing, education, and healthcare. The amount of child support is determined based on factors such as the parents' incomes, the child's needs, and relevant state or country guidelines to provide for the child's best interests.

Who Has to Pay Child Support?

Child support is typically the financial responsibility of the non-custodial parent or guardian, meaning the parent who does not have primary custody of the child or children. This arrangement is designed to ensure that both parents contribute to the child's financial well-being, regardless of their living situation. 

However, the Family Law Act also recognizes the responsibilities of step-parents under certain conditions, such as being a guardian or having a residence order for the child. The duty of a step-parent is considered secondary to that of the biological parents.

How Much Is Child Support in Australia?

The amount of child support paid is determined by factors such as the non-custodial parent's income, the custodial parent's income, the child's needs, and state guidelines. It aims to provide for the child's basic necessities and maintain a reasonable standard of living. Child support laws and regulations can vary by jurisdiction, so it's essential to follow the specific legal requirements in your area. For example, Queensland child support laws and regulations will differ from Victorian child support laws.

The child support scheme, administered by the Australian Government Department of Human Services, provides a method for administrative assessment and enforcement of child maintenance. It aims to reduce delays and uncertainties of court proceedings.

Eligibility for Child Support

Eligibility extends to children under 18, but can include older children with disabilities or those in continuing education. Applications can be made by the child, parents, grandparents, or any person concerned with the child's welfare.

Issues of Paternity and Parentage Testing

Paternity is crucial in child support cases, especially for children born out of wedlock. The Family Law Act contains provisions for paternity testing, and in cases of dispute, DNA testing can be organised to establish paternity.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding spousal maintenance and child support below.

How Long Does Spousal Maintenance Last?

The answer to this question varies depending on each unique situation. In fact, there are no specific limits to how long alimony or spousal maintenance is supposed to last. Usually, the Court will determine a duration depending on how long they believe the person in need of partner maintenance requires to get back on their feet and become self-supporting again.

In some circumstances, partner maintenance may be paid on an ongoing, permanent basis if the person in need is seen to be unfit for work or has a unique case.

When Does Child Support End?

Again, the answer to this question depends on each individual family’s circumstance, but child support payments most commonly cease once the child turns 18 years old. If the child is in secondary school, however, the child support payments may be extended until the end of the school year. Some families may continue payments if the child goes on to do tertiary education, but this is not very common.

If you have any questions about spousal maintenance or child support, our team is happy to assist you. Divorce is a difficult process for everyone involved. It is crucial to have the right advice. The experienced team at Goldsmiths Lawyers can guide you through this uncertain time to ensure that your interests are protected. Get in touch with us today so we can answer any queries you may have and help you along during this trying time.

Get in Touch

Goldsmiths Lawyers is conveniently located close to Melbourne's Court precinct at:
52-54 Rosslyn Street,
West Melbourne VIC 3003