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Spousal Maintenance

Relationship breakdowns can lead to financial insecurity and anxiety about ongoing living expenses. Our family law team can provide expert advice and guidance to ensure that you have the funds necessary to care for yourself.

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Spouse Maintenance vs Child Support

Spouse maintenance is where one partner provides ongoing financial support for their former partner.

Spouse maintenance is separate from child support. Child support is paid for the benefit of the children, whilst spouse maintenance is for your benefit.

When it’s awarded

The Court can only make an order for spouse maintenance if:

  1. One partner is unable to meet his/her own needs; and
  2. The other partner has the capacity to pay for these needs.

How much you will receive

There is no fixed formula to determine how much spouse maintenance is paid. The amount paid is dependent on the specific circumstances of the parties. It is necessary to consider:

  • Your age and health
  • Your income, property and financial resources
  • Your ability to work and
  • Whether being a party to the relationship has affected your ability to earn income

The Court also considers what amount is necessary for the receiving partner to achieve a reasonable standard of living. This is not necessarily the same standard of living the partner lead prior to separation.

If you are concerned about payment of spouse maintenance or are unsure whether you may be entitled to such payment, please do not hesitate to contact one of our family lawyers.


No. You can seek spousal maintenance from as soon as you separate.

You do not need to be married to apply for spousal maintenance. You can seek spousal maintenance if you have been in a de facto relationship.

Yes, spousal maintenance is almost always paid from after tax income or source of funds. The receiving party is not required to pay tax on the maintenance received.


If you are married you can apply any time after separation up to 12 months after the date your divorce order takes effect.

If you are in a de facto relationship, you can apply for spousal maintenance within 2 years of the date of separation.

You need to obtain special permission if you apply out of these time limits, which can be costly.

Spousal maintenance is for you and is separate and additional to child support for the children and is also separate and additional to your property rights.

This is dependent on your specific circumstances. For example, the Court may only order that spousal maintenance be paid for a period of, say, two years, so that the person receiving support can retrain to enter the workforce and thereafter support themselves. In other circumstances, where a person has been out of work for many years or has little to no capacity to earn any income in the future, a Court may order maintenance on a longer and rarely ever a “lifelong” basis.

Importantly, if your former partner remarries, you are no longer required to pay spouse maintenance from then.


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