Do I have to support my former spouse financially after we separate?
Under the Family Law Act 1975, a person has a responsibility to financially assist their spouse or former de facto partner, if that person cannot meet their own reasonable expenses from their personal income or assets.
In determining whether or not to grant an order for spousal maintenance, the court considers the following about both parties:
- your age and health
- your income, property, and financial resources
- your ability to work
- what is a suitable standard of living, and
- if the marriage has affected your ability to earn an income.
The court also takes into account with whom the children (under 18 years of age or adult children who are disabled) live.
You are not entitled to maintenance if you marry another person unless the court otherwise orders. If you start a new de facto relationship the court will take into account the financial relationship between you and your new de facto partner when considering whether you are able to support yourself adequately.
If you were married, applications for spouse maintenance must be made within 12 months of your divorce becoming final.
If you were in a de facto relationship, your applications for de facto partner maintenance must be made within 2 years of the breakdown of your de facto relationship.
If you do not apply within these time limits, you will need special permission of a court. This is not always granted.