Navigating the financial complexities of separation and divorce can be overwhelming, especially regarding spousal maintenance. At Ramsden Family Lawyers, we understand the importance of securing the necessary financial support to meet your daily expenses during this challenging time. Spousal maintenance, also known as alimony or an allowance in some countries, provides vital assistance for those not the primary breadwinner in a relationship.

It is not intended to be never-ending financial support but rather a means to help cover basic expenses and alleviate the financial pressures associated with separation until a party is able to support themselves again. Before resorting to court proceedings, we strongly encourage you and your ex-partner to explore an amicable agreement regarding spousal maintenance. In this article, we will delve into the eligibility criteria, application process, considerations of the court, time limits, and duration of spousal maintenance, offering valuable insights to empower you during this crucial phase of your life.

Spousal maintenance is when one spouse makes payments to the other to provide financial support. In some countries, it is known as an allowance or alimony. It is separate from child support payments which go toward the maintenance and financial support of the children. For some, particularly those not the breadwinner in a relationship, spousal maintenance is essential to meeting daily expenses. These payments are not intended to be complete financial support but rather help you pay for basic expenses and relieve some of the financial pressures of separation and divorce.

It is always preferable that you and your ex-partner attempt to reach an agreement regarding spousal maintenance before you go to Court.

Who is entitled to spousal maintenance?

To be eligible for spousal maintenance, you must be unable to support yourself due to:

  1. Having the care and control of a child of the marriage who is under 18 years of age.
  2. You age or physical or mental incapacity for gainful employment; or
  3. Any other adequate reason with the Court to decide the adequacy of the reason.

What must I show?

When applying for spousal maintenance, you must demonstrate two things:

  1. You have a shortfall from your income to meet your reasonable financial needs; and
  2. The other party can meet those needs from their income by having a surplus of income over their own reasonable financial needs.

The Court will decide what your reasonable financial needs are based on the case’s specific circumstances.

Making an application

To receive spousal maintenance, you must first apply to the Court. There are two (2) types of spousal maintenance applications.

  1. Spousal maintenance – where one party of a once married couple makes payment to the other in circumstances where they are unable to support themselves adequately.
  2. De facto partner maintenance – where one party of a once de facto couple makes payment to the other in circumstances where they are unable to support themselves adequately.

What will the Court consider?

The Court will then consider the applicant’s needs and the respondent’s capacity to pay. It is a balancing act. The Court will look at the applicant and respondent and take into account several considerations including:

  1. Age and health
  2. Income, property and financial resources
  3. Ability to work
  4. With whom those children under 18 years of age or disabled adult children live
  5. What constitutes an adequate standard of living
  6. Whether the marriage affected a party’s ability to earn an income.

For further consideration, please see the Family Law Act section 75(2) as it relates to married couples and section 90SF as it relates to de facto couples.

Is there a time limit to make an application?

Yes, like most matters in court, there is a time limit to apply for spousal maintenance. If you do not adhere to the time limit, you must seek special permission from the Court, which is not always granted.

If you were married, you must bring an application for spousal maintenance within 12 months of your divorce becoming final.

If you were in a de facto relationship, you must bring an application for de facto partner maintenance within 2 years of the breakdown of your de facto relationship.

For how long can I receive spousal maintenance?

The duration of your spousal maintenance will depend on the unique facts of your case. The Court will decide what length of time is most appropriate. Spousal maintenance may be ordered as a lump sum to be awarded at the end of a property settlement, or it may be ongoing and indefinite.

However, if you remarry, the Court will generally terminate the obligation of the other party to pay spousal maintenance.

What happens if I don’t receive my spousal maintenance?

If you don’t receive spousal maintenance, you may apply to the Court, who will take steps to enforce the other party’s obligation to pay


At Ramsden Family Lawyers, we understand the complexities and challenges of seeking spousal maintenance. Our team of experienced family law attorneys is here to guide you through the process, ensuring your rights and financial well-being are protected. Whether you are considering applying for spousal maintenance or need assistance in enforcing an existing obligation, we provide you with the expert legal advice and representation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards securing the financial support you need for a stable future. Remember, you don’t have to face this journey alone – we’re here to support you every step of the way.