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What is Spousal or De Facto Partner Maintenance?

The lack of a steady income can be unsettling due to the uncertainty it brings. In cases where one party was financially dependent on the other during the relationship, the financially dependent party may be entitled to claim ongoing spousal or de facto partner maintenance after divorce or separation.

Entitlements or responsibilities for spousal or de facto partner maintenance arise only in specific situations. To claim the entitlement, the party must demonstrate a genuine need for financial support and an inability to adequately support themselves, while the party required to pay must have the capacity to do so.

The court considers various factors, outlined in the Family Law Act 1975, to decide whether to grant an order for spousal or de facto partner maintenance. These factors include:

  • Ages and health of both parties
  • Income, property, and financial resources of each party
  • Care and control of children
  • Responsibilities or commitments to other dependents
  • Standard of living during the relationship
  • Eligibility for pensions, allowances, or benefits, including superannuation
  • Duration of the marriage (for married couples)
  • Current child support arrangements

For de facto partner maintenance, the relationship must have lasted at least two years, there must be a child from the relationship, or one party must have significantly contributed to the relationship, and not granting maintenance would lead to serious injustice.

Spousal or de facto partner maintenance can be paid in a lump sum or through regular payments at weekly, fortnightly, or monthly intervals. It is essential to apply for spousal or de facto partner maintenance within the specified time frames. For spousal maintenance, the application must be made within 12 months of getting a divorce, and for de facto partner maintenance, it must be made within 2 years of the relationship breakdown.

Entering a new relationship can impact your spousal maintenance obligations or entitlements. Given the highly individualized nature of spousal or de facto partner maintenance applications and the need to meet specific criteria, seeking legal advice tailored to your circumstances will be crucial. We can provide guidance on potential entitlements or responsibilities following a separation.