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.

What is spousal maintenance and how is it different to child support?

Spousal maintenance is where one partner provides ongoing financial support for their former partner. Spousal maintenance is separate and an addtional entitlement to child support. Child support is paid for the benefit for the children whilst spouse maintenance is for the spouse usually where that person is a “stay at home parent”, not earning any week by week wages. It is possible that you may be entitled to receive/pay both spousal maintenance and child support.

When is spousal maintenance awarded?

The Court can only make an order for it 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 spousal maintenance is appropriate?

There is no fixed formula to determine how much 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 spousal support or are unsure as to whether you may be entitled to such payment, please do not hesitate to contact one of our family lawyers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to be divorced to get spousal maintenance?

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

Can de facto partners apply for spousal maintenance or do you have to be married?

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.

Is spousal maintenance taxable?

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.

Are there any time limits when applying for spousal maintenance?


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.

Am I eligible for both spousal maintenance and child support?

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.

How long do I need to pay spousal maintenance?

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 themself. 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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