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Spousal maintenance or spousal allowance

An Order for Spousal maintenance means that a spouse with sufficient means may, in some circumstances, have the responsibility of
financially assisting their former spouse if he or she cannot meet their own reasonable expenses from their personal income or assets.


Spousal Maintenance

The Family Law Act provides that if there is an income disparity between a separated couple, then the party with the lower income may be able to pursue spousal maintenance from the higher income earner.

To be eligible for spousal maintenance, the lower income earner must be unable to support themselves because: 

  • They are caring from children under the age of 18 years; and/or
  • They are unable to obtain employment; and/or
  • For any other adequate reason, as decided by the Court.

The lower income earner must prove to the Court: 

  • That they have a shortfall in their income (which excludes government benefits) to meet their reasonable weekly needs; and
  • The higher income earner has the capacity to meet that need from surplus income.

The Court also takes into account a variety of other factors, including the lifestyle the parties enjoyed during their relationship and whether either party is meeting their child support liabilities.

Spousal maintenance can be paid on a periodic (weekly/monthly) basis or in a lump sum payment.  It can be ordered at the commencement or during litigation to help a party overcome their immediate needs and/or after a trial on a final basis.

Spousal maintenance can be applied for up to twelve months from the date of a Divorce Order being granted or for up to two years after a de facto couple separates.