Spousal maintenance

If someone is unable to support herself or himself after separation (apart from through welfare benefits), then it is possible to apply to a court for spousal maintenance. This applies not only if you have been married, but also if you have lived in a de facto relationship for two years or more, or have lived with someone and have had a child together even if the relationship did not last for two years.

It is more common to get an order for maintenance before there is a final property settlement than to get an order for long-term maintenance after the property is divided. This is because the law encourages people to make a “clean break” apart from child support. However, in some cases, where, for example, a mother has the care of young children, maintenance may be awarded to help provide support for a while or to help her get back into the workforce.

The law takes account of a range of factors in deciding how much maintenance to award. The factors for married couples are here. There are similar factors taken into account for those in a de facto relationship. It usually comes down to how much the applicant needs and how much the other person can afford to pay.

Spousal maintenance ends, in most cases on the remarriage of the person receiving it or if he or she enters into a stable and continuing de facto relationship.

You should seek legal advice on your entitlement to spousal maintenance and any other legal issues concerning it.