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Norman Waterhouse

Spousal maintenance – who receives it and who pays?

Ensuring financial security for our clients, both in the short term and long term, is of central importance to us. Spousal maintenance can play a part in achieving that goal.

Clients often fail to realise that they may be entitled to maintenance payments to help them meet their own day-to-day expenses and maintain their reasonable standard of living.

It is equally important to be aware that you may be responsible for financially maintaining a former spouse.

Spousal maintenance payments are separate and distinct from child support obligations.

A party seeking an order for maintenance is required to satisfy the following criteria:

  • they are unable to adequately support themselves; and
  • the other party has the financial capacity to provide support.

When determining an application for spousal maintenance, a court must take several factors into consideration, which, amongst others, include the age and health of the parties, their respective incomes, property, financial resources and capacity for employment and the care and control of any children of the relationship who are under 18.

It is critical to keep in mind that there are time limits that apply to spousal maintenance applications. If married, a party may apply within twelve months from the date of a Divorce Order. For de facto couples, an application for maintenance needs to be filed within two years of the date of separation. There are, however, certain circumstances where a court will grant permission to proceed out of time in both instances.

Spousal maintenance is not always a relevant factor when parties separate, but it is one that always deserves some level of consideration.

Spousal maintenance is a complex area of family law. We provide our clients with sensible and strategic advice, whether they are seeking the payment of spousal maintenance or defending a request or application for the same. We understand that every client’s case is different, and our advice is invariably catered to individual circumstances.

If you require assistance in relation to any family law enquiry, please contact Christopher Mason on +61 8 8210 1231 or


2 June 2021



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