What is Spousal Maintenance?

Spousal maintenance in Australia refers to financial support that one spouse or de facto partner may be required to provide to the other after the breakdown of a marriage or a de facto relationship. It is intended to assist the financially disadvantaged spouse in meeting their reasonable living expenses and maintaining a similar standard of living they enjoyed during the relationship.

It's important to note that spousal maintenance is separate from child support, which is intended to support the financial needs of any children from the relationship.

Spousal maintenance is governed by the Family Law Act 1975 (for married couples) and the Family Law Act 2008 (for de facto couples in certain Australian states and territories). To be eligible for spousal maintenance, the Court must consider the following:

  • Financial need: The applicant must demonstrate that they are unable to adequately support themselves financially without the maintenance and that they have a reasonable need for financial support.
  • Capacity to pay: The other spouse or partner must have the financial capacity to provide spousal maintenance, taking into account their income, earning capacity, property, and financial resources.
  • Reasonable expenses: The maintenance sought should be reasonable and necessary to meet the applicant's living expenses and financial needs.
  • Age, health, and earning capacity: The court will consider the age, health, and earning capacity of both parties in determining the duration and amount of maintenance.

The court will assess the financial circumstances of both parties, including their income, assets, and financial commitments, and may consider factors such as the length of the relationship, contributions made by each party (both financial and non-financial), and their future needs.

Spousal maintenance can be paid in various forms, including periodic payments (regular installments), lump sum payments, or the transfer of property. It can be agreed upon between the parties through a binding financial agreement or determined by the court if the parties cannot reach an agreement.

If you need specific advice on spousal maintenance or any other family law matters, it's best to consult with a family lawyer or seek legal advice. Contact us to discuss your options and entitlements.