What is Spousal Maintenance?

Spousal maintenance is a payment made by one spouse/de facto partner to another for the maintenance of that person.

Spousal maintenance is not an automatic right.

Section 72 of the Family Law Act 1975 states that:

A party to a marriage is liable to maintain the other party, to the extent that the first-mentioned party is reasonably able to do so, if, and only if, that other party is unable to support herself or himself adequately whether:

1. By reason of having the care and control of a child of the marriage who has not attained the age of 18 years;

2. By reason of age or physical or mental incapacity for appropriate gainful employment;


3. For any other adequate reason.

A party may apply to the Court for an Order for spousal maintenance 12 months from the date of divorce or 24 months from the date of separation in the case of a de facto relationship.

It is common for parties to remain separated but not apply for a divorce. If that is the case, then there is a danger that one spouse may make a claim for spousal maintenance against the other even though the parties may have separated for a long time.

Spousal maintenance payments are generally separate to the property division between parties although they may sometimes form part of the property division/settlement.

For more information about spousal maintenance, speak with one of our lawyers today.

This article provides information that is general in nature and is not a substitute for legal advice.