Spousal Maintenance

Need to Know


  • A spouse may have a right to claim spousal maintenance after separation.
  • There are provisions made for former married couples and de facto couples.
  • The person with lower income may be able to pursue spousal maintenance from the higher income earner if certain conditions are met.
  • Time limits and eligibility criteria apply for spousal maintenance applications.
  • Spousal maintenance can be made as regular payments (e.g. weekly/monthly) or in a lump sum.
  • The Court may order payments to start immediately or delay until a Final Order is made depending on immediate financial needs.

How spousal maintenance works

When married and de facto couples separate, the spouse with a higher income (or sufficient means) may be responsible for supporting their former spouse if they can’t meet their own reasonable expenses. 

At Quinn Family Law, our priority is to help you understand your rights, responsibilities and eligibility criteria so we can help you work out how spousal maintenance applies to your unique circumstances.

Who can claim spousal maintenance?

The Family Law Act makes provisions for separated couples (married and de facto) to claim financial support after separation if there is an income disparity.

The Court usually considers you to be eligible if you: 

  • Have the care and control of a child of your marriage or de facto relationship who is aged under 18.
  • Are unable to obtain gainful employment because of your age or medical issue.
  • Meet any other adequate reason determined by the Court.

If you meet any of these criteria, the Court will then consider whether:

  • You have a shortfall in your income (excluding government benefits) to meet your reasonable weekly needs.
  • If the higher income earner can support themselves and has surplus funds (over and above their weekly expenses) to meet your needs.

The Court also considers other factors like lifestyle and child support liabilities.

How do I claim spousal maintenance?

Spousal maintenance applications are made through the Family Law Courts. You can apply for urgent maintenance (for urgent financial needs), an interim order for maintenance pending property settlement (for interim current needs) or a final order for spousal maintenance (for ongoing future needs).

Which one is right for you? Our family law experts can advise on your unique circumstances.

How much spousal maintenance do I have to pay?

If the Court determines that spousal maintenance is appropriate, it will then consider how much should be paid. There are many different factors that influence this decision. We can talk you through the financial, legal and moral obligations that apply to your situation.  

Time limits apply

Time limits apply for spousal maintenance applications.

Spousal maintenance can be applied for from anytime post separation and up to twelve months from the date of divorce for married couples or up to two years for de facto relationships.

The Court will also place a specific time limit on how long payments must be made.

Get the facts on spousal maintenance 

Every relationship and every family is different. You should seek advice before you make any applications that could impact your future financial position.

 Connect with our experienced family law services Gold Coast today. Book a free 60 minute initial consultation with Quinn Family Law. 

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