Spouse maintenance — frequently asked questions
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.
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:
- there is a shortfall between the income of the person who is applying for maintenance, (from all sources and taking into account their property and financial resources) and their expenses which they incur to support themselves (as opposed to expenses for any children); and
- the applicant’s expenses to support themselves are reasonable; and
- the other party has the capacity to pay.
When does maintenance stop?
Maintenance (if it is awarded at all) stops immediately upon the recipient remarrying and is also likely to stop or be reduced (upon court application) upon the recipient commencing a de facto relationship.
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.
Will maintenance pay for children’s expenses?
No. Maintenance is only to cover the recipient spouse or de facto partner’s 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.