Spousal Maintenance In Family Law

The Family Court of Australia and The Federal Circuit Court of Australia deal with two types of spousal maintenance applications. These are:

  1. Spouse maintenance is financial support paid by a party to a marriage to their former husband or wife in circumstances where they are unable to adequately support themselves.
  2. De facto partner maintenance is financial support paid by a party to a de facto relationship that has broken down to their former de facto partner in circumstances where they are unable to adequately support themselves. This includes same sex de facto relationships.

Under the Family Law Act 1975, a person has a responsibility to financially assist their former spouse, if that person cannot meet their own reasonable expenses from their personal income or assets.

1. What Is Spousal Maintenance?

Spousal maintenance (or support) is when one party pays an amount of money periodically to help financially support their partners because they are unable to adequately support themselves. However, this is not an automatic right.

Under the Family Law Act 1975, a person has a responsibility to financially assist their spouse, if that person cannot meet their own reasonable expenses from their own income or assets.

Where relevant, both parties to a marriage or a de facto relationship have an obligation to support and maintain each other as much as they can for as long as they can.  This obligation can continue even after separation and/or divorce. The extent of the support will vary and depends on the financial ability of the other party.

2. What Does A Court Consider?

When deciding on a maintenance application, a court will consider the needs of the applicant and the respondent’s capacity to pay. A court considers the following about both parties:

  • Age and health;
  • Income, property, and financial resources;
  • Ability to work ;
  • What is a suitable standard of living, and/or
  • If the marriage has affected your ability to earn an income.

The court will also takes into consideration, the living arrangements of any children of the marriage.

3. What About De Facto Partners ?

De facto partners can make a claim for maintenance just like married partners. There are some exceptions which may apply to your circumstances so it is best if you contact us to discuss your rights.

4. What If I Start A New Relationship?

You may not be entitled to spouse maintenance if you remarry and/or if you start a new De Facto relationship. In those circumstances, the Court will take into consideration the financial relationship between you and your new partner when considering whether you are able to support yourself adequately.

5. Is There A Time Limit For Applications For Spousal Maintenance?

If you were married, applications for spouse maintenance must be made within 12 months of your divorce becoming final.

If you were in a de facto relationship, including same sex relationship, your applications for de facto partner maintenance must be made within 2 years of the breakdown of your de facto relationship.

If you do not apply within these time limits, you will need special permission of a court. This is not always granted.

6. How Can Antwan Lawyers Help Me?

Antwan Lawyers can provide you with sensible advice about any entitlements that you may have for spousal maintenance whether you were married or in a De Facto relationship.