Spouse Main­te­nance — FAQs

In Brief- What is Spouse Maintenance?

Spouse main­te­nance is mon­ey paid by one spouse or de fac­to part­ner to the oth­er spouse or de fac­to part­ner, usu­al­ly on a week­ly or month­ly basis, to meet his or her rea­son­able liv­ing expenses.

How can I apply for maintenance?

You are not auto­mat­i­cal­ly enti­tled to be paid maintenance.

You can ask your spouse/​de fac­to part­ner to pay main­te­nance to you if you have sep­a­rat­ed. If they refuse to pay main­te­nance vol­un­tar­i­ly, you need to file an Appli­ca­tion at the court, sup­port­ed by an affi­davit. Your lawyer can and will assist you to make the appli­ca­tion for main­te­nance if it is appro­pri­ate in your par­tic­u­lar circumstances.

When will the court make an order for maintenance?

A court will only make an order for main­te­nance if it is sat­is­fied that:

  1. You have a need.This means there is a short­fall between your income, (from all sources and tak­ing into account their prop­er­ty and finan­cial resources) and your rea­son­able liv­ing expens­es (as opposed to expens­es for any chil­dren); and

  2. Your expens­es to sup­port them­selves are rea­son­able under the cir­cum­stances” (i.e. hav­ing regard to the cost of main­tain­ing 2 house­holds on the income that pre­vi­ous­ly sus­tained 1 house­hold); and

  3. the oth­er par­ty has the capac­i­ty to pay, hav­ing regard to their rea­son­able liv­ing expens­es, along with any child sup­port they might be paying.

When does main­te­nance stop?

Main­te­nance (if it is award­ed at all) stops:

  1. imme­di­ate­ly upon the recip­i­ent remarrying;

  2. is also like­ly to stop or be reduced (upon court appli­ca­tion) upon the recip­i­ent com­menc­ing a de fac­to rela­tion­ship; or

  3. Upon the Court order­ing that it is no longer to be paid.

How long will I receive main­te­nance for?

Every case is dif­fer­ent. In many cas­es main­te­nance will only be ordered for a lim­it­ed time, for exam­ple to allow the recip­i­ent time to com­plete a course which will assist them to obtain employ­ment. In most cas­es, the Court will order main­te­nance only until such time as par­ties obtain a prop­er­ty set­tle­ment, or, for a set peri­od fol­low­ing the receipt of a prop­er­ty settlement.
It is unusu­al to obtain long-term spouse main­te­nance, and very rare for the Court to order spouse main­te­nance with­out an end date.

Will main­te­nance pay for chil­dren’s expenses?

No. Main­te­nance is only to cov­er your rea­son­able expenses.

Main­te­nance is sep­a­rate from child sup­port, which is intend­ed to meet chil­dren’s expens­es. It is also sep­a­rate from Child Main­te­nance” which is main­te­nance paid by a par­ent for an adult child in cer­tain circumstances.
You should dis­cuss with your lawyer as to whether you should also seek that the Court make orders in respect to child sup­port, to meet the costs of your children.