Spousal maintenance is financial support paid by one party to the other after a married or de facto relationship has ended.  The intended payer will however need to have the capacity to provide that support.

An application for spousal maintenance must be made within 12 months from when the divorce becomes effective or otherwise within 2 years from the date of separation in a de facto relationship.

Pursuant to Section 72 of the Family Law Act 1975, to qualify for maintenance a person will have to show that they are unable to meet their reasonable living expenses because they are caring for children or they cannot work because of ill health, age or some other reason such as having no job skills or being out of the work force for too long or being close to the retirement age.

When a court makes a decision, it need to consider the following:

  1. the age and health of the applicant;
  2. the income, property and financial resources, the standard of living, the ability to earn an income of the applicant;
  3. the care of children under the age of 18 or adult children who are physically or mentally disabled.

Spousal maintenance can be paid by either a lump sum or regular payments by an agreement between the parties or by an Order of the Court.

Maintenance payment will cease upon remarriage, forming a de facto relationship, obtaining employment, death or upon the death of the payer.

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