Spousal Maintenance

If you are unable to support yourself financially as a result of

  • caring for children under the age of 18; or
  • a mental or physical disability which prevents you from working; or
  • any other adequate reason

you are entitled to make an application to the Family Court for spousal maintenance. Your spouse is only obligated to support you if he or she has the financial means to do so.
You may make an application for spousal maintenance whether you have been married or in a de facto relationship.

When can I make an application for spousal maintenance?

You can make an application for spousal maintenance any time during the separation/divorce process, or within one year after your divorce has been finalised (an application for spousal maintenance may be made later than this in some special circumstances).

Lump sum vs periodic spousal maintenance

Spousal maintenance can be made by way of a one-off lump sum payment, or it can be made over a specific period of time by way of regular, smaller payments. The extent of what your spouse pays and how it will be paid is determined by what the payee can afford to pay.

Can I maintain my current standard of living?

Spousal maintenance should allow you to maintain a standard of living that is reasonable in your specific circumstances. This means that the Court will look at the standard of living you enjoyed during your marriage, as well as the financial resources currently available to support you and your spouse.

Urgent spousal maintenance

If you are in immediate need of financial assistance from your spouse, the Court can make an order requiring your spouse or partner to pay either a lump sum, or a series of payments over a short period to you.

How much does it cost?

The Family Court charges a filing fee of $410 for an application for spousal maintenance. The application consists of an Application for Final Orders, a Financial Statement and an affidavit detailing the facts upon which you rely to support your claim.

Spousal maintenance hearing

After you have filed your application for spousal maintenance, you will need to serve your application on your spouse and notify him or her of the hearing date which the Court has allocated. Your spouse will have the chance to file answering documents before the hearing.

At the hearing, the Court will ask you and your spouse about your financial circumstances and, based on the information you and your spouse have provided, the Court will make a decision.

If you need assistance with an application for spousal maintenance, please contact Carr & Co on 9322 8000 or via email at contactus@carrco.com.au.