What Is Spousal Maintenance?

What Is Spousal Maintenance?

Spousal maintenance is a payment made by a spouse to their former partner which provides some financial support when their former partner is unable to adequately support themselves after separation.

Did you have to be married?

To be able to apply for spousal maintenance you would have had to be married to your former partner as it is governed by the Family Law Act.

Similar provisions are available to de facto partners under the Family Court Act (and called “De-facto Partner Maintenance”).

How do you apply for spousal maintenance?

An applicant usually applies for spousal maintenance when they are seeking property orders. It is possible to request an interim payment and a final payment for a certain amount of time to help you get back on your feet.

How is the amount of maintenance determined?

Before making an order for spousal maintenance, the Family Court considers the applicant’s need for payment vs the respondent’s capacity to pay. It considers the following variables:

  • Age.
  • State of health.
  • Income.
  • Properties held.
  • Financial resources.
  • Ability to work.
  • Suitable standard of living.
  • Whether being in the marriage has affected the applicant’s ability to earn an income.
  • How many children and who they live with.

What happens if I meet someone else?

This doesn’t become an issue unless you become de facto or you get married to your new partner.

If you get married, then the spousal maintenance ceases as you are now supported by another person. If you became de facto with another person, it would depend whether they were now supporting you or not.

Limitation period

Like property orders, an application for spousal maintenance must be made within one year of a divorce becoming final or within two years of separation if you were in a de facto relationship.

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