What is Spousal Maintenance?

Posted on Sep 11, 2020 by Candice Bell   |   Categories: Family Law

Have you separated and can’t make ends meet?


It is not uncommon for one partner to earn a greater income than the other during their marriage or defacto relationship.  After separation though what happens if your partner moves out and stops paying the mortgage or directs their pay to go into their own account instead of the joint account the bills are paid from?


If that is your situation, you may be entitled to spousal maintenance.


What is spousal maintenance?


Spousal maintenance is financial support that one party pays to the other to help the first party meet their reasonable living expenses after separation.


Importantly, spousal maintenance is different to child support. They are separate payments and you can be entitled to receive child support and still be entitled to receive spousal maintenance.


How to know if you could be entitled to spousal maintenance?


  1. Does your income fall short of being enough to cover your weekly or monthly expenses?


  1. Does your former partner have enough income to support you as well?


How is spousal maintenance paid?


Spousal maintenance can be paid in many ways, it can be a lump sum payment or regular weekly or monthly payments. It can be by one party paying the expenses of the other, for example making the mortgage repayments or car repayments directly to the bank.


When can I apply for spousal maintenance?


You can apply for spousal maintenance any time after separation.


But remember, you can run out of time. If it has been 2 years since the end of a defacto relationship or 12 months after a divorce was granted, you would need to prove significant hardship before the Court would allow you to make an application for spousal maintenance after that time.


How long can I receive spousal maintenance?


There is not one single answer because each case is different. For example, it might be regular payments just until the property settlement is sorted out, or it might be something that continues for set period of time after a final settlement is reached.


Can I ask for spousal maintenance to be part of my property settlement?


Yes, you can include a lump sum or a time for periodic payments in addition to a division of other assets in your property settlement.


How do I make a claim for spousal maintenance?


If possible and depending on your circumstances, the best way forward is to discuss with your former partner ways to resolve your financial issues by discussing what support you need and what financial assistance they can give to you.


If you can’t reach an agreement, you can file an Application with the Family Court of Australia or Federal Circuit Court of Australia.


More information


If you need assistance with negotiating spousal maintenance or advice regarding your unique circumstances, please call Candice Bell at Baker Love Lawyers on 02 4944 33 22