Spousal maintenance is a payment which a person makes to their former partner to financially support them.

Spousal maintenance is not an automatic right and unless there is a mutual agreement that spousal maintenance will be provided, the person seeking financial support must obtain a Court Order.

When the Court is determining whether a person should pay spousal maintenance to their former partner, the following factors are considered:

  • Whether the person seeking spousal maintenance can meet their reasonable living expenses from any income they earn, or income-generating assets they own or have an interest in. It should be noted that the Court will not consider any Centrelink benefits or child support payments as “income”, when considering this factor; and
  • Whether the person who has been asked to pay spousal maintenance can afford all or some of the amount they have been asked to pay.

On occasion, circumstances can arise where a person making an Application for spousal maintenance demonstrates that they are unable to financially support their reasonable living expenses however, the Court does not make an Order for spousal maintenance. This is because their former partner does not have the financial means to provide them with the support they require.

A spousal maintenance payment is not always in the form of money and can be a payment which is made on behalf of your former partner. Examples include mortgage repayments, car repayments, payment of council rates, water rates, utilities, insurances, etc.

Spousal maintenance payments made in the form of money can either be made by providing a lump sum payment or periodical payments, being payments made on a weekly/fortnightly/monthly basis.

Our family lawyers have extensive experience in both making and defending spousal maintenance Applications. We can provide you with realistic advice regarding the potential outcomes of any Application. If you find yourself in this situation, contact us for an objective view and advice on your options.

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