What is spousal maintenance? And, am I entitled to it?

What is spousal maintenance? And, am I entitled to it?

Following the breakdown of a marriage or de facto relationship, one party may find it difficult to adequately support themselves.  Spousal maintenance is financial support paid by one party to the other to assist in meeting living expenses on an interim or final basis.

It is important to note the distinction between spousal maintenance and child support – child support is paid by one parent to the other for the benefit of the children. Spousal maintenance, on the other hand, is paid for the benefit of the spouse or de facto partner.

In considering whether a party is entitled to spousal maintenance, the Court will consider:

  1. Whether the person applying for spousal maintenance is “unable to support himself or herself adequately”; and
  2. Whether the Responding party is “reasonably able” to meet those needs.

The Family Court will also take into account issues including but not limited to:

  • The health and age of the parties;
  • The parties’ income, assets and financial resources;
  • The income earning capacity of each party;
  • In the circumstances of the parties, what is deemed to be a ‘suitable standard of living’; and
  • Whether the relationship had an effect on the income earning capacity of the party applying for spousal maintenance; and
  • If there are any children of the relationship and the care arrangements for those children.

It is important to remember that in some circumstances time limits apply in seeking Orders for spousal maintenance in particular:

  • If you were married, you have 12 months from the date of your divorce Order taking effect;
  • If you were in a de facto relationship, within 2 years of your final separation.

If you have recently separated from your partner and hold concerns regarding your financial circumstances, please contact one of our experienced family law solicitors who will be happy to speak with you.