Spousal Maintenance

Spousal Maintenance

Have you recently separated from your spouse or de facto partner? Are you struggling to make ends meet? If you are, you may be entitled to spousal maintenance.

When you separate and move from one household to two, the cost of running both homes naturally increases. This can put a strain on the finances, particularly if you’re the one in the weaker financial position. This is where spousal maintenance can help.

Essentially, spousal maintenance is a form of financial support. Its to help you meet your reasonable living expenses when you are unable to do so, from your own income and resources. You must be able to show that you need financial support and that your ex-partner can pay.

Applications for spousal maintenance can be complicated, and its always best to reach an agreement with your ex-partner. Where this isn’t possible, we can help you obtain an urgent, interim or final order.

To find out how we can help you, book your free 15-minute consult today.

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Under Section 72 of the Family Law Act, a spouse has the right to maintenance to the extent that the other spouse can maintain them if they are unable to support themselves adequately because of:

  1. Having the care of a child of the marriage;
  2. Age or physical or mental incapacity; or
  3. For any other adequate reason.

The Court will look at how much you need to support yourself. It will look at your income and all your expenses. The Court will disregard any payments that you receive from Centrelink. The Court will also look at your ex- partner’s income and his/her ability to pay for your support.

The Court will consider several factors when assessing whether spousal maintenance should be paid including:

  • The age and state of health of you and your ex-partner;
  • The income, property and financial resources of you and your ex-partner;
  • The physical and mental capacity of you and your ex-partner to participate in appropriate gainful employment;
  • Whether you or your ex-partner will be the primary carer for your child/ren moving forward;
  • The necessary commitments of you or your ex-partner to support himself or herself, a child or another person that the party has a duty to maintain (including reasonable weekly expenditure);
  • The responsibilities of you and your ex-partner to legally or morally support any other person.
When the Court decides whether you should receive any maintenance, it will ignore any payments that you may receive from Centrelink. However, if you do get a pension or benefit, Centrelink may reduce your pension by an amount- if you receive maintenance.

Most spousal maintenance orders are only made for a limited time. For, e.g. a spousal maintenance order may be made until a final property order has been completed. Sometimes, the Court will order that a lump sum be paid to you or that property be transferred.

An application for spousal maintenance can be made at any time if you are married. If however, you are divorced and have a divorce order, then an application for spousal maintenance must be made within 12 months of your divorce becoming final. If you are in a de facto relationship, you must apply within two years from the date of separation. If time limits are not complied with, an application seeking permission from the Court to apply out of time will need to be made.
A spousal maintenance order ends in the following circumstances:
  • At a predetermined time
  • When the order is discharged
  • When either you or your ex-partner dies or re-marry.