What is spousal maintenance and are you eligible?

What is Spousal Maintenance?

Spousal maintenance is separate from child support and is a payment made to financially support a former partner after divorce or separation. It assists the receiving spouse to meet reasonable expenses and maintain his or her standard of living, be it temporarily or permanently. It is not mandatory in Australia and is calculated according to the applicant’s needs and the respondents ability to financially support those needs.

The applicant will need to establish that he or she is unable to meet reasonable expenses and do not have the capacity to increase his or her income. The applicant will also need to show that the respondent is reasonably able to support him or her financially.

The applicant will need to apply for spousal maintenance within 12 months of being divorced, or two years from the breakdown of the relationship for de facto relationships.

Matters considered

Factors under S 75 of the Family Law Act 1975 are considered in determining spousal maintenance, for instance:

  • Ability to earn an income
  • Age and health
  • Standard of living suitable for the applicant’s situation
  • Which party is the primary carer of the children
  • Individual and combined incomes, including assets
  • Duration of the relationship
  • Ensuring both parties have a reasonable standard of living
  • Eligibility for a pension that is not an income-tested pension
  • Whether either party has commitments to support another person

How long does spousal maintenance last?

This will determine on each party’s circumstances. It is usually for a defined period of time to assist  applicant to get back on his or her feet and serves as a safety net whilst property settlement is being finalised. In saying so, it can also be ongoing payments or a lump sum payment.

If the applicant re-partners, the Court will consider the shared financial resources between the applicant and their new partner. The applicant will then generally no longer be entitled to spousal maintenance.

How can we help?

If you need legal advice or support, talk to us today for a FREE 15-min family law consultation, call 1300 111 835 or email at enquiries@thefamilylawyer.com.au. We look forward to helping you achieve a better outcome


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Kehsee Ng

Family Lawyer

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