A few words about

Spousal Maintenance

Spousal Maintenance

A brief summary

The Court can make orders for Spousal Maintenance & Defato Partner Maintenance.
Maintenance is not automatic however there is a responsibility to financially assist a former partner who cannot support themselves.
Both parties have an equal duty to support and maintain each other as far as they can
There is a time limit as to when you can apply for maintenance.

Spousal Maintenance

A person has a responsibility to financially support their former spouse or de facto partner, if:

  1. they have the capacity or means to provide financial support; and
  2. their spouse is unable to support themself adequately from their personal income or assets (“need” for maintenance).

Both parties have a duty equally to support and maintain each other, whether on a short-term basis, or continuing after separation and divorce.


The Court must be satisfied that an order for maintenance is reasonable in the circumstances, and considers the needs of both parties having regard to your:

  • age and health;
  • income, property, and financial resources;
  • ability to work;
  • suitable standard of living;
  • ability to earn an income if it has been affected by the relationship; and
  • care of child/ren of the relationship (including children under the age of 18 years or adult children who have a disability).


Time Limits

You are not entitled to maintenance if you marry another person unless the Court otherwise orders.


If you start a new de facto relationship the court will take into account the financial relationship between you and your new de facto partner when considering whether you are able to support yourself adequately.


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, 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

The family law courts can hear disputes about child/ren of a de facto relationship, in the same way as child/ren of a marriage, including disputes about parenting arrangements – such as who the child/ren lives with and spends time with.

Yes. From 9 December 2017, if a same-sex couple had entered into a binding financial agreement under the de facto provisions of the Family Law Act, the agreement will continue to be valid and binding, and be treated under the same provisions of the Act that apply to married couples.

Your application must be filed within 2 years from the date of separation.

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