What is Spousal Maintenance?

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Payments made by one spouse to another after separation to help the receiving spouse pay their living expenses are referred to as spousal maintenance payments.

It might be necessary to pay spousal maintenance after separation in situations where one spouse was financially dependant on the other and now that they are separated, they are unable to meet their own living costs without help.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia has the power to order a spouse to pay spousal maintenance.

Unlike child support payments, the Department of Human Services (Centrelink) does not administer spousal maintenance payments. If a spouse requires financial help and the other spouse is refusing to provide financial help, the disadvantaged spouse must make an application for a spousal maintenance order from the Court.

To succeed in an application for a spousal maintenance order, the applicant must prove that:

  1. They are unable to support themselves adequately without spousal maintenance.
  2. The other party is reasonably able to pay the spousal maintenance.

Once the above two elements have been established the Court is then empowered to make ‘such order as it considers proper for the provision of maintenance’.

In deciding what order is ‘proper’ the Court will take in to account a range of circumstances of the parties.

Similarly, to other applications for property orders, an application for a spousal maintenance order must be made within 12 months of the date of a divorce or within 2 years of the end of a de facto relationship.

If you have any questions about the above, our team at FC Lawyers is here to help. If you have any questions or queries regarding anything above, please contact our team of experienced family lawyers.

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