What is Spousal Maintenance
Spousal Maintenance is different to Child Support and Adult Child Maintenance.
Spousal Maintenance might be payable in addition to Child Support or Child Maintenance.
Spousal Maintenance is a payment by one spouse to their former spouse, to assist them to support themselves after separation or divorce.
Spousal Maintenance can be payable either as a weekly amount for a certain period of time (for example a 6 months, a year, 3 years etc), or Spousal Maintenance can be paid as a lump sum amount.
If you watch American Television shows or Hollywood movies, you might have heard spousal maintenance referred to as alimony.
Who is eligible to receive payment of Spousal Maintenance
Can you apply for Spousal Maintenance? When might you be entitled to be paid Spousal Maintenance by their former partner?
Unfortunately some people are not eligible to apply for Spousal Maintenance.
Before a Court can consider whether or not it should make an Order for one spouse to pay Spousal Maintenance to their former Spouse, the Court firstly needs to make sure that the couple meet the basic threshold eligibility criteria so that a former spouse is entitled to apply for Spousal Maintenance.
Marital Relationships & Spousal Maintenance
If you are married, you are able to apply for Spousal Maintenance.
The date of your separation does not have any effect on whether you are able to seek Spousal Maintenance.
De Facto Relationships & Spousal Maintenance
If you were in a De-facto relationship, whether or not you are eligible to apply for Spousal Maintenance depends on the date of your separation.
De-facto spouses may be able to apply for spousal maintenance if:
- you are from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory or the Northern Territory and you separated after 1 March 2009;
- you are from South Australia and you separated after 1 March 2009;
- you are from Western Australia and separated after 1 December 2002.
If you were in a De-facto relationship and you separated prior to the date stated above that applies to you (based on the state you live in) then you are not eligible to make an application for Spousal Maintenance.
This is because the law changed to allow those who have been in a De-facto relationship to seek Spousal Maintenance. The date the law changed depended on when the specific States agreed to change the law, meaning the changes to the law took effect from different dates in different states.
Who may not be eligible to receive payment for Spousal Maintenance
You may not be eligible for Spousal Maintenance if:
- you have since married someone else;
- you have entered into a new de-facto relationship as the circumstances of that de-facto relationship will be considered.
- you are a de-facto couple outside Australia;
- you are from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory or the Northern Territory and you separated before 1 March 2009;
- you are from South Australia and you separated before 1 March 2009;
- you are from Western Australia and separated before 1 December 2002.
Spousal Maintenance: More you should know
You can read information as to when Spousal Maintenance might be payable by one spouse to their former spouse in our information sheet Can I get paid Spousal Maintenance. This information sheet also gives some examples of the most common situations in which an order for Spousal Maintenance might be made.
There is a list of things the law says the court must look at when considering whether a person should be ordered to pay Spousal Maintenance to their former partner. You can read that list in our information sheet List of matters considered for whether Spousal Maintenance is payable.
We have a information sheet explaining how payment of Spousal Maintenance is calculated.
Our information sheet Frequently answered payment questions about Spousal Maintenance has more information about:
- Period Payments or Lump Sum Spousal Maintenance;
- What if Financial Circumstances change
- What if my former spouse fails to make payments;
- When do periodic Spousal Maintenance payments end.
A time limit does apply as to when you can make your application for Spousal Maintenance.
If an order for payment of Spousal Maintenance has not previously been made, then there are time limits that apply as to how quickly after your separation or divorce you will need to make an application for Spousal Maintenance. You can read more about this in our information sheet, Spousal Maintenance Time Limits.
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