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De facto relationships | Divorce & Separation | Maintenance | Property Settlement

What is Spousal Maintenance?

by Rishika Pai

Under the Family Law Act, a person may claim spousal maintenance from their former spouse or de facto partner following separation. Maintenance may be payable where:

  1. One party is unable to adequately support themselves; and
  2. The other party has the financial capacity to support their former spouse.

The extent of the support depends on what the other party can afford to pay.

The three circumstances in which a need for maintenance may arise are by reason of:

  1. Having the care of a child of the marriage;
  2. Having age or physical or mental incapacity for appropriate gainful employment; or
  3. Any other adequate reason.

In assessing a claim for spousal maintenance, the Court will consider a number of issues in relation to both parties, including the following:

  • age and health;
  • income, property, and financial resources;
  • whether either party has the care of a child or is responsible for supporting any other person;
  • ability to work;
  • What is a suitable standard of living, and
  • if the marriage has affected a party‚Äôs ability to earn an income.

It is best to attempt to negotiate an agreement with your ex-partner before commencing Court proceedings. If you cannot reach an agreement, you can file an application with the Federal Circuit Court or Family Court. If you are married, you have 12 months from the date your divorce becomes final to apply for spousal maintenance. If you were in a de facto relationship, you have two years from the date of separation to make the application.

If you have separated and need assistance in relation to spousal or de facto maintenance, Pigdon Norgate can assist you and provide you with further advice.