Spousal maintenance in Australia, how does it work?

Family Law

In Australia, spousal maintenance is financial support that is paid by one spouse to the other after they separate or divorce. It is designed to help the receiving spouse meet their needs and maintain their standard of living, and is paid on a regular basis. The amount of spousal maintenance that is paid can be agreed upon by the couple, or ordered by the court.

Below we answer three of the most common questions when it comes to Spousal Maintenance.

1. What does Australian spousal maintenance entail?

The weekly support one spouse must give from their salary to the other spouse is known as spousal maintenance. Spousal support is the acceptance of both parties’ shared responsibilities for maintaining each other in a marriage or de facto partnership. In Australia, married couples and couples involved in a de facto relationship may be eligible to make a maintenance claim. Whether married or in a de facto relationship, you may use the same legal justifications to request maintenance. Many people are astonished by this and are unaware that they would have to pay maintenance just because they live with someone. Many people are unaware that they can be required to pay or have a right to spousal support payments from their ex-partner. Child support and child maintenance are unrelated to spouse maintenance. For the children’s upkeep, parents must pay child support and maintenance. The former partner is supported with spousal maintenance. In Australia, spousal maintenance and maintaining the spouse are important concepts.

2. What is maintenance? How are alimony payments made in Australia?

Alimony is a term and idea used in American law. Alimony is governed by entirely distinct laws. The term “alimony” is not used in Australian law. Instead, the phrase “maintenance” is used throughout the Family Law Act 1975. In Australia, parties may be entitled to make maintenance claims against one another. In Australia, maintenance is only due under specific conditions, whereas alimony is only under certain conditions in the US.

3. When is Australian spousal support due?

The right to receive spousal support is not inherent, unlike the right to a property settlement. The party requesting spousal maintenance must prove that they cannot support themselves sufficiently and that the other party can do so within a reasonable range.

The courts will take into account several criteria, including the following, before deciding whether to impose any orders regarding spousal maintenance:

  • the upbringing and management of little children;
  • the parties’ ages and physical conditions;
  • their ability to find meaningful work;
  • each party’s income, assets, and financial resources;
  • each party’s obligations to support themselves and others;
  • each party’s eligibility for a pension, allowance, or benefit;
  • a reasonable standard of living in all circumstances;
  • whether payment would increase the other party’s earning capacity;
  • any creditors’ rights;
  • any contribution to each party’s income, assets, and financial resources;
  • the nature of cohabitation with any other person;
  • the conditions of any property settlement;
  • the amount of child support owed and paid;
  • the terms of any legally enforceable financial arrangement;
  • any other fact or circumstance that, in the judgment of the court, must be taken into account to ensure that justice is done in the case;
  • The facts that the courts may consider are not limited or closed. The courts have extensive discretion;


Maintenance for a spouse is not owed indefinitely. It is seen as “rehabilitative” instead. This indicates that the maintenance order is intended to be transitory, helping the person receiving it get through a brief phase in their lives.

How long does spouse maintenance order last?
A spouse maintenance order typically lasts no longer than two years, during which time the payee is expected to retrain and find independent employment. Regardless of gender, either spouse may be the recipient of spouse maintenance.

How are spouse maintenance payments arranged?
Spouse maintenance payments may be made on a recurring schedule, such as weekly, fortnightly, or monthly. With a general property division, spousal maintenance can also be paid in one lump payment.

Spousal maintenance may not matter in certain situations, but it may be quite significant in others.

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