Family Law

Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance is very much a part of the Australian family law scene.

Unlike what we are led to believe in TV shows and movies, there is no automatic right to, or presumption of, spousal maintenance from a husband to a wife, or a wife to a husband. Whether spouse maintenance is payable very much depends on your unique circumstances.

Maintenance can be payable in situations where one party is unable to adequately meet their reasonable needs (expenses of daily living) and the other party has the capacity to pay maintenance after meeting their own reasonable needs.

Determining who is responsible for paying maintenance will generally require consideration of:

  1. Who has the care and control of any children;
  2. The age and state of health of each party to the marriage; and
  3. The ability of the person who claims maintenance to obtain appropriate and gainful employment.

It is important to note that even if one party is unable to adequately support themselves, then the party paying maintenance is only liable to support that person if they have financial capacity to pay maintenance.

If you are currently paying maintenance and your circumstances change it is wise to seek expert legal advice from a maintenance lawyer to determine what that could mean for your maintenance obligation.

Maintenance payments are generally made through:

  1. periodic payments as defined in your agreement or the Court Order;
  2. A lump-sum payment; or
  3. directly paying expenses for the other party.

Arrangements for the payment of spousal maintenance can be put in place by a Financial Agreement between the parties, or through a Court Order. Applications for spousal maintenance must be made within 12 months of a Divorce Order becoming effective or for de facto couples, within 2 years of the date of separation.

Spousal maintenance is an extremely detailed and technical area of law and absolutely requires expert legal advice. Contact us for initial advice today.

Helpful Resources

Separation and Stress
Family Court of Australia & Federal Court of Australia


Download the helpful guide (PDF 2.25MB) | Visit the site

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Children & Separation Booklet

Family Relationships Online


Download the helpful guide (PDF 769 KB) | Visit the site

Download our helpful booklet
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