WHAT IS SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE?
Spousal Maintenance is different from child maintenance in that it is paid by one spouse to the other spouse following a divorce. It is a general principle of law that neither spouse has a right to spousal maintenance upon divorce. However, section 7(2) of the Divorce Act, 70 of 1979 provides the court with the discretionary power to make an award should it be necessary.
Without a written agreement between the spouses that was agreed upon before the divorce, Section 7(2) of the Divorce Act comes into effect and the court will use its discretion when deciding on whether one spouse should pay maintenance to the other spouse.
For clarity, we quote Section 7(2) of the Act herewith:
“the court may, having regard to the existing or prospective means of each of the parties, their respective earning capacities, financial needs and obligations, the age of each of the parties, the duration of the marriage, the standard of living of the parties prior to the divorce, the conduct in so far as it may be relevant to the breakdown of the marriage, an order in terms of section 7 (3) and any other factor which in the opinion of the court should be taken into account, make an order which the court finds just in respect of the payment of maintenance by the one party to the other for any period until the death or remarriage of the party in whose favour the order is given, whichever event may first occur”.