Services > Spousal Maintenance

What is spousal maintenance?

Under the Family Law Act 1975, a court can order that one spouse or de facto partner provide financial support to the other for a defined period of time.

One party may be liable to maintain the other party, to the extent that he or she is reasonably able to do so, if, and only if, that other party is unable to support herself or himself adequately.

What do you need to show?

The court must be satisfied that the applicant is unable to support themselves adequately, because they have care or control of a minor child of the relationship, by reason of age, physical or mental incapacity for appropriate paid employment, or they have another adequate reason.

Can you be paid spousal maintenance as a lump sum?

Yes, the court can order either a regular payment (for example, to assist with ongoing costs such as a mortgage or other outgoings) or a lump sum to provide for a period of spousal maintenance (e.g. 12 months of maintenance payments paid as a lump sum).

What do I need to do to apply?

You need to file an application, an affidavit in support and a financial declaration. The financial declaration sets out weekly income and expenses. It helps the Court to assess what the shortfall is, and whether the claim is reasonable.

What if I have already received a property settlement?

Even if you have already divided your property between you, your circumstances may still make you eligible for spousal maintenance. We can advise you further on this aspect.

Do I have to apply immediately on separation?

No, but if you are having difficulty meeting expenses then advice may be helpful.

There are limitations. You have only 12 months from the date of the divorce to commence an application for spousal maintenance. If you are in a de facto relationship you have 2 years from the date of the breakdown of your relationship to commence an application.  

Can you reach agreements on spousal maintenance?

Yes, you can reach an agreement which provides for maintenance to be paid. That agreement can take the form of a binding agreement if you wish.

To be binding you must instruct a solicitor to prepare a legal document that properly records the agreement. We can assist you if you wish to enter into a spousal maintenance agreement with your former partner.

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