Spousal Support and Maintenance

Division of property can be an emotional and sometimes complex process. AJB Stevens, a specialised team of property settlement lawyers based in Sydney, will work with you to make a difficult situation as smooth and painless as possible.

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We can help you with:

Divorce

Spousal Maintenance

Understand whether you are entitled to ongoing financial support
Property Settlements

Property Settlements

Know where you stand when it comes to your property
Parenting Orders

Child Support

Know your responsibilities and entitlements when it comes to financial support for the children of a relationship
Financial Agreements

De Facto Maintenance

Know your entitlements and responsibilities when it comes to financial support for former de facto partners

Can AJB Stevens help me?

Are you or a loved one going through a difficult separation, divorce or relationship breakdown?

Do you need help to work out if one of you are entitled to ongoing spousal maintenance payments or de facto maintenance payments?

Do you need guidance or assistance in coming to an agreement on the breakdown of a marriage or relationship?

Do you need assistance in working out how the relationship breakdown, property settlement and ongoing financial support fit together?

If you have answered yes to any of these three points then AJB Stevens can help. Our lawyers are the experts and industry leaders in family law, as well as spousal maintenance and property agreements. We understand that family matters are very sensitive issues and always treat our clients with compassion and empathy while providing you utmost privacy. Contact us today to see how we can help you.

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Spousal Support and Maintenance

Going through a divorce or separation is traumatic, and settling the financial situation of the partners is no exception. Seeking the help of AJB Stevens will ensure that you receive the ongoing financial support that you are entitled to.

Spousal Maintenance

This is an ongoing financial support payment that is paid to either the former husband or former wife, if they cannot adequately support themselves, and where the partner is reasonably able to pay it.

De Facto Partner Maintenance

This serves the same purpose as spousal maintenance payments but is owed to a former de facto partner that is unable to adequately support themselves.

Property Settlement

Spousal maintenance payments are distinct from the division of property following the separation or divorce of a couple. An individual may still be entitled to maintenance even if they received a significant amount as part of a property settlement.

Child Support

‘Child support’ is the name commonly given to ongoing financial arrangements in support of children. It is also referred to as ‘child maintenance’. This is distinct from spousal or de facto partner maintenance and is also commonly put in place at the end of a marriage or de facto relationship.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Spousal Support and Maintenance?

Spousal support or spousal maintenance (these terms are often used interchangeably), is an ongoing payment after divorce, or on the breakdown of a marriage, where one of the spouses is unable to continue to support themselves.

Spousal maintenance is determined separately from divorce proceedings, and may be applied for before or after divorce (though usually within 12 months of divorce).

What is alimony? Is alimony payable in Australia?
‘Alimony’ is a legal term, common in the United States, to refer to ongoing payments after the end of a marriage. It is determined on a state-by-state basis and is quite different from the Australian concept of spousal maintenance payments.
Does maintenance apply in a de facto relationship?
Yes, a similar form of financial support can be awarded on the breakdown of a de facto relationship.
How many types Of Spousal Maintenance are there?

Three kinds of application can be made for spousal maintenance in Australia.

  • Urgent Maintenance. This may be applied for where one partner needs support immediately;
  • Interim order for maintenance. This is an order which will apply temporarily until a full and final decision can be made by the court.
  • Final order for maintenance. This involves an order for ongoing financial support based on the anticipated ongoing need of an individual.

 

Can I get spousal maintenance from my former partner?

Spousal maintenance payments (or de facto maintenance payments, in the case of de facto partners), are not automatically given to one party. In the interests of achieving a ‘clean break’ for both parties it is only ordered for a fixed period of time. 

The court will consider a range of factors before granting an order for maintenance, once eligibility for maintenance is confirmed. These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • Age and health;
  • Financial resources of both parties, both currently and looking into the future;
  • The ability of both parties to work;
  • A suitable standard of living;
  • How the marriage impacted on the ability of one of the spouses to earn an income;
  • The existence of children under 18 or disabled adult children who need support.

A similar range of factors are considered in the case of de facto maintenance payments under section 90SF of the Family Law Act 1975.

What are the steps involved in getting maintenance?

An application to the court must be made within 12 months of a divorce being finalised for spousal maintenance. For de facto relationships, the application must be made within 2 years of the breakdown of the relationship. Applications can be made to the court outside of these time limits in exceptional circumstances. 

Orders for maintenance can be urgent, interim and final in nature, depending on the needs of the applicant. 

As an alternative to applying to the court, both partners could come to an agreement about maintenance between them. 

For more information see How do I apply for property and financial orders?

How do I know if I am eligible for spousal maintenance?

The basic requirements for eligibility for spousal maintenance are set out in section 72 of the Family Law Act 1975. A party is eligible to apply where they are unable to support themselves adequately due to:

  • Needing to take care of a child of the marriage;
  • Age or incapacity (whether physical or mental), or
  • For any other adequate reason. 

You need to seek independent legal advice on your eligibility. Lawyers will be able to give advice on the likelihood of your claim succeeding in court based on their knowledge of how the courts have interpreted similar cases. They may also be able to help you reach an agreement on maintenance without the need for a court order. 

Note, eligibility to apply for spousal maintenance does not guarantee that any particular level of payment will be made.

How much do I get for spousal maintenance?

There is no exact formula used to calculate spousal maintenance. The court will make its decision based on the income and assets of the parties and reasonable expenses. 

Your lawyer can help you with the information you need to provide, such as income information and a proposed budget, to support your case in court.

How do I apply for spousal maintenance?

If you are unable to agree with your former partner on an amount for ongoing maintenance, and you are within established time limits, you may make an application to the Family Court. 

For more information see How do I apply for property and financial orders?

What is the difference between spousal support and child support?

Spousal support is an ongoing payment to a former spouse to recognise their need for support, while child support is an ongoing payment based on the needs of the child.

Does spousal maintenance affect child support?

Yes, the court will take into account any present or future liability for child support payments when calculating spousal maintenance payments.

Do I need a family lawyer to calculate spousal maintenance?

It is recommended. Only a family lawyer has up-to-date information on the amounts that people in your situation have been required to pay.

Do I have to go to court to get spousal support?

No. You should first try and come to an agreement with your former spouse or partner. If you are unable to do so, only then should you apply to the court.

What are the time limits to apply?

An application for maintenance must be made within 12 months of the finalisation of a divorce, and within 2 years of the breakdown of a de facto relationship.

What will the court consider?

The court will consider a range of factors before granting an order for maintenance including, but not limited to:

  • Age and health;
  • Financial resources of both parties, both currently and looking into the future;
  • The ability of both parties to work;
  • A suitable standard of living;
  • How the marriage impacted on the ability of one of the spouses to earn an income;
  • The existence of children under 18 or disabled adult children who need support.
When does Spousal maintenance ends?

This is for the court to determine, but they will only apply for a finite period of time – a maintenance order does not apply for life. 

There are certain circumstances that will automatically end the maintenance order, including the death or re-marriage of one of the parties (with some exceptions in the latter case). 

The court has the power to discharge, suspend or vary the maintenance order where circumstances have changed.

How do I get out of paying spousal maintenance?

If one party wishes to apply to the court, and they meet the legal requirements for spousal maintenance, it will be payable. There is no ‘getting out of it’. 

However, if you can come to an agreement with your former spouse or de facto partner on maintenance payments, ideally at the time of property separation, this is preferable

Why Choose us?

At AJB Stevens, we work to help protect your legal rights. Our ability to offer each and every one of our clients professional and personalised service means we work hard to help win your case. Our directors are personally involved in each case so you can rest assured that a senior team member is always prioritising your case.

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Adrian Barakat - Personal Injury Law Specialist

Adrian Barakat

Director

How can we help?

Each Spousal Support and Maintenance case is different and unique in its own right. Seeking the help of AJB Stevens will ensure that you receive the compensation and entitlements you deserve to help get your life back on track.
“The team at AJB Stevens Lawyer have been nothing short of amazing. They played a pivotal role in my compensation claim and I would highly recommend their services for clients like myself” – Khoa, Canley Vale