When a couple separates, there are often financial implications. One of the most common questions people ask is about the difference between spousal maintenance and child support.
In this article, we will discuss the key differences between these two types of payments. Keep in mind that these are general rules, and each situation is unique. If you have specific questions about your own case, it is best to speak with an attorney.
What is spousal maintenance?
Spouse maintenance is a payment from one spouse to the other. The purpose of this payment is to help the receiving spouse meet their reasonable needs. For example, if one spouse earns a significantly higher income than the other, spousal maintenance may be used to help level the playing field.
Maintenance can be either temporary or permanent. It is important to note that there is no guarantee of receiving spousal maintenance — it is up to the court to decide if it is appropriate in each individual case.
What is child support?
Child support is a payment from one parent to the other for the support of their children. This includes expenses such as food, clothing, shelter and education. Child support payments are typically made until the child turns 18 (or 19 if they are still in high school).
Unlike spouse maintenance, child support is not optional. If you have custody of your child, you are entitled to receive child support from the other parent.
How is spousal maintenance calculated?
The amount of spousal maintenance is decided on a case-by-case basis. There are a number of factors that the court will take into consideration, including:
- The age and health of both spouses
- The incomes of both spouses
- The employment history of both spouses
- The length of the marriage
- The standard of living during the marriage
- Each spouse’s ability to earn an income
Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that both spouses can maintain a similar standard of living after the divorce.
How is child support calculated?
In Australia, child support payments are calculated using a formula that takes into account both parents’ incomes and the number of nights the child spends with each parent. You can use an online calculator to get an estimate of how much child support you may be entitled to.
What if you don’t agree with the amount of child support you are being asked to pay?
If you do not agree with the amount of child support that has been calculated, you can ask the court to review the assessment. This is a complex process, so it is best to speak with an attorney before taking any action.
- Spousal maintenance and child support are two different types of payments that may be ordered by the court after a couple separates.
- Spousal maintenance is a payment from one spouse to the other to help meet their reasonable needs. Child support is a payment from one parent to the other for the support of their children.
- Child support is not optional — if you have custody of your child, you are entitled to receive child support from the other parent.
- If you do not agree with the amount of child support that has been calculated, you can ask the court to review the assessment. This is a complex process, so it is best to speak with an attorney before taking any action.
Do you have questions about spouse maintenance and child support? It’s always best to seek an experienced family lawyer!