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:

  1. 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
  2. the appli­can­t’s expens­es to sup­port them­selves are rea­son­able; and
  3. 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.