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Spousal Maintenance Australia
25 Mar 2024

A Complete Guide to Comprehending Spousal Maintenance in Australia

By Family Lawyers Mackay, 25 Mar 2024
Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance in Australia represents an essential financial provision, allowing one party of a dissolved marriage or de facto relationship to support the other. When the person receiving it fails to support themselves after getting separated or divorced, the help becomes essential. It is vital to discern spousal maintenance from child support payments, heightening its attention only on the financial matters of an ex-partner rather than child care accountabilities. Learning about ‘What is spousal maintenance?’, how to deal with the complexities of applying for it, calculating the appropriate amount, and potential ways to avoid these payments are critical topics we’ll cover for people managing post-separation financial landscapes in Australia.

In addition, it’s critical to stress that spousal maintenance covers de facto partnerships and marriages, broadening its application and emphasising its topicality in contemporary relationship dynamics. This article will help you with deep knowledge of the following topics: ‘Spousal support in Australia’, the essential steps on ‘How to apply for spousal maintenance in Australia’, the complexities involved in ‘Spousal maintenance calculator?’, and the fundamental question of ‘How to get out of paying spousal maintenance?’ You’ll also have solid information on this matter, including knowledge of “Alimony in Australia” and “Spousal maintenance lawyers’ role.”

Spousal Maintenance

A legal or de facto spouse can demand spousal maintenance under the Family Law Act after a separation. Nuptial maintenance is payable if there is a significant salary variance between the couple at the date of separation. The spouse with the higher earnings must economically support their mate’s entitlement to spousal maintenance. Based on the circumstances, they propose this maintenance regularly or all at once.

So, When a spouse cannot support themselves, one of the wedding parties offers their spouse (or former spouse) economic aid.

Alimony or Spousal maintenance?

Notably, Australian law does not use the terminology “alimony.” Instead, it mentions a diverse zone of American law conceptually associated with spousal maintenance but drives independently.

All About Spousal Maintenance

Learning the particulars of Spousal Maintenance in Australia is vital for individuals managing the aftermath of a relationship breakup. Here, we ensure clarity and insight by delving into the essential elements that define this financial support system:

  • Purpose and Scope:
    1. When there was an excellent wage variance between the two partners at the time of departure, the goal of spousal maintenance was to back the former spouse. This provision is listed in the Family Law Act of 1975
    2. The Australian spousal maintenance policy seeks to fill the gap in income following a separation, permitting both parties to preserve a reasonable standard of expenses.
    3. The monetary assistance varies from child support because it is directed only on an ex-partner’s sustenance instead of child care duties.
    4. Applicable in both married and de facto relationships, spousal maintenance underscores its relevance across diverse relationship dynamics.
  • Criteria and Considerations:
    1. To ensure justice and equity in each instance, the courts decide maintenance for spouses relying on the applicant’s requirements and the respondent’s economic circumstances. 
    2. Factors include health, age, revenue, assets, funds, savings, workability, fitting lifestyle, and the impact of the wedding on the ability to earn.
    3. A key factor is that spouse maintenance could be provided more effectively; the applicant has to show their incapacity to care for themselves and the other person’s capacity to supply assistance.
  • Implications of New Relationships:
    1. The Court will consider the financial arrangement between the individual and their new de facto partner, so beginning a fresh relationship may influence spousal support benefits.
    2. Maintenance for spouses and asset resolution represent two distinct concepts; the former pertains to maintaining income, and the latter involves dividing belongings.

People can effortlessly access the complex rules of Spousal Upkeep in Australia by accurately knowing their rights and responsibilities and being aware of these critical factors.


By consulting one of our accredited family law mackay specialists.

Eligibility Criteria for Spousal Maintenance

The Court considers various variables in Australia when determining whether the person qualifies for spousal support. The key characteristics are below:

  • Inability to Support Oneself:
    1. The essential eligibility requirement is the person’s disability in supporting themselves. There may be causes, such as getting older, health issues, or taking responsibility for children or elderly parents.
    2. If the candidate cannot meet the needed expenses, the Court estimates their monetary standing, such as their economic situation.
  • Ex-Partner’s Ability to Pay:
    1. In addition to considering the applicant’s demands, the Court examines the ex-partner’s capacity to supply aid. This method evaluates their revenues, assets, and cash reserves.
    2. The party establishing the request must indicate their need for backing and the respondent’s ability to provide it.
  • Legally Recognised Relationship:
    1. Those from de facto relationships and marriages, even those who are separated yet not legitimately divorced, are suitable.
    2. The duration of the marriage or partnership, the way of life continued throughout that period, and the realisation that a single partner is seeking a fresh relationship are all considered factored in.

Factors Affecting Qualifications:

  • Health and Age: Maintaining may be accessible for older people or people with medical problems that hinder them from performing tasks.
  • Caring Responsibilities: The candidate’s ability to earn earnings and, thus, their ability to qualify may be affected if they’re the primary carer for tiny kids or elderly parents.
  • Capacity to Earn: Confined potential for earnings is considered if it results from a lack of schooling, professional experience, or other factors.
  • Marriage or Relationship Impact: The contender’s efficiency in generating income is also considered to be the effect of the wedding or relationship. That includes the division of work throughout the relationship and how it influenced the applicant’s career in instances like this.

Additional Considerations:

  • The Court looks at every relevant factor before arriving at an option that is not set. 
  • De facto relationships in QLD are eligible for maintenance, provided they were in place after 1 March 2009. Those who separated before this date have no right to maintenance. [Source: Spousal Maintenance – Legal Aid Queensland]

Anyone considering sending an application for spousal maintenance in Australia must be informed of all these demands. This information highlights the importance of appealing arguments in Court, indicating that assistance is necessary and that the former partner can fulfil it.


By consulting one of our accredited family law mackay specialists.

Calculating Spousal Maintenance

It’s vital to realise that the system of spousal support drive in Australia is intricate and customised for every instance. The courts utilise a particular breakdown when arriving at this calculation:

  1. Needs vs. Capacity:

    The spousal maintenance calculator depends mainly on the proportion of the respondent’s finances to the applicant’s requirements. Courts carefully assess the applicant’s financial demands against the respondent’s financial resources.

  2. Factors Considered:

    • Income and Expenses: It is fundamental to thoroughly assess both parties’ incomes and expenses, including current earnings, potential future earnings, and daily living expenses.
    • Earning Capacity and Resources: When deciding one’s ability to earn, the Court examines many variables that may affect it, including medical condition, age, and carer commitments. The Court also considers the wealth that each party has access to, including funds, possessions, and ways to earn income.
    • Care Responsibilities: If either party is the primary carer for a child, this significantly impacts the calculation. The courts recognise the financial implications of such responsibilities.
    • Length of the Relationship: The partnership duration might affect upkeep estimates because more extended partnerships can result in higher financial dependency.
    • Comprehensive List of Factors: A broad spectrum of additional variables also get taken into thought by the courts, such as the parties’ old and physical well-being, their capacity to earn wages, their responsibilities for helping others, their suitability for retirement funds or benefits, their acceptable standards of lifestyle, and any being monetary arrangements.
  3. Payment Methods:

The legal basis of maintenance for spouses is found in the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), which defines rules for qualification, payment modes, and the resulting period for a spouse’s support. Notably, Australia possesses flexible rules for paying spousal maintenance, which may take a variety of shapes, such as:

  • Lump-Sum Payment: The Court could determine that a lump sum payment provided all at once works in certain instances. This option frequently gets chosen when a clean break between the parties is possible.
  • Regular Payments: Spousal maintenance is usually paid regularly, offering constant cash support for an agreed-upon period.
  • Covering Specific Expenses: Maintenance could directly pay for rent, vehicle payments, insurance premiums, and mortgage interest.

In Australia, there is more than an online calculator suitable for every individual regarding spousal maintenance. Because each instance is unique, the Court has wide latitude when making choices, which promises that its findings are just and proper in light of the specifics of each instance.

Legal Process and Time Limits

Both the party responding and the person who applies must be informed of the time constraints for maintenance for spouses in Australia and overcome through the courts. Here’s an overview to help you access this aspect:

  • Time Limits for Application:
    1. Couples in Marriage: Applying within a year of the divorce decree becoming operative is necessary.
    2. De Facto Couples: Within 24 months following the date of separation, an application needs to be provided.
    3. Exceptions: In certain instances, the Court might extend these time limits.
  • Application Process:
    1. Either the Federal Circuit Court or the Family Court of Australia must get a request to initiate the spousal maintenance procedures.
    2. To fully grasp your privileges, duties, and the complex nature of the application procedure, it is beneficial to speak with legal assistance.
    3. The Court retains its power to determine the most suitable maintenance for the spouse based on the specifics of each instance. Effective payment methods include lump sum or regular payments.
  • Modifications and Termination:
    1. Modification: Spousal maintenance orders may be reviewed and adjusted to maintain equity and elasticity in reaction to shifting conditions.
    2. Termination: With few exceptions, settlements stop if the person receiving them gets married again or begins with another de facto relationship. Additionally, if the Court defines spousal maintenance as unnecessary, either party might ask that it stop.

Making well-informed choices regarding spousal support in Australia and defending your rights requires awareness of all these judicial processes and deadlines.


By consulting one of our accredited family law mackay specialists.

Spousal Maintenance QLD

In studying spousal maintenance within Queensland (QLD), Australia, it’s crucial to comprehend the factors that the Court considers pivotal in determining the eligibility and extent of maintenance. Here, we break down these factors for clarity:

  • Health and Age: Age and health are vital considerations for you and your former spouse. The Court’s goal is to ensure that individuals who are too aged or unwell for assistance have been taken concern of.
  • Revenue, Assets, and Money: The Court examines both parties’ financial standing, including income, property, and other economic resources. This examination helps assess the capacity to pay for maintenance and the need for support.
  • Ability to Work and Suitable Standard of Living: Factors include the prospect of finding work and the reasonable cost of living for both sides. This conduct ensures that, while trying to keep an adequate means of living for each other, the upkeep given does not unlawfully stress the other party.

In addition, the Court takes account of the needs and living conditions of those kids involved:

Children’s living situations within the age limit of eighteen or those with limitations get special attention. The Court assesses that the children remain with and how this impacts both parents’ capacity and desire to earn wealth.

The cessation of entitlement to maintenance in QLD is also subject to specific conditions:

  • Marrying Another Person: You must have the court regulations differently to avoid losing your privilege of spousal support if you marry another time.
  • New De Facto Relationships: Maintaining benefits does continue even when a new de facto relationship begins. However, the Court will look at the economic arrangement between you and the newlywed to decide whether you can have enough backing yourself.

Anyone managing the complex issues of spousal maintenance in Queensland must possess extensive knowledge of these circumstances and factors. It highlights the importance of giving the Court an accurate depiction of your economic and private instance to ensure a fair assessment and choices.


By consulting one of our accredited family law mackay specialists.


How much Australian spousal support has been decided?

In Australia, the Court measures the applicant’s essentials and the defendant’s capability to wage when determining spousal support. This process involves inspecting numerous aspects for both parties, including age, health, salary, assets, and overall economic possessions.

How long might it be essential to pay spousal maintenance in Australia?

In Australia, spousal support may be due for varying lengths of time. It may be paid in periodic payments throughout the divorce or in full due to the property agreement. The Court may order spousal maintenance for an indefinite period or a specific time frame with a precise end date.

What constitutes the “threshold test” for receiving spousal maintenance?

Two vital criteria comprise Australia’s “threshold test” for spousal maintenance: the person seeking maintenance must not be able to support themselves, and the other party must have sufficient resources to fulfil the applicant’s upkeep. 

Is spousal maintenance considered taxable income in Australia? 

Australia does not admit spousal maintenance as taxable income. However, individuals getting spousal maintenance must report these payments to Centrelink if they also get income-tested welfare. Spousal maintenance may be given after the end of a wedding or de facto relationship to a prior spouse or partner.


Through this guide, we have journeyed across the intricate landscapes of spousal maintenance in Australia, traversing the domains from its fundamental concepts and eligibility criteria to the nuances of calculation and the legal rigmarole that defines its application and continuation. The expedition underscored the distinction of spousal maintenance from other financial supports, such as child care. It illuminated the significant criteria, considerations, and implications of entering new relationships that pivot around this vital support system. By delineating the critical aspects of eligibility, calculation, and legal process, this guide endeavours to anchor individuals firmly in their knowledge and directions of post-separation financial sustenance, emphasising the necessity of equitable support to ensure both parties can maintain a standard of living that mirrors the essence of fairness and justice ingrained in Australian family law.

Moreover, the significance of seeking professional advice must be considered, as the complexity of spousal maintenance claims requires deep management and a strategic approach towards application and negotiation. It beckons the need for competent legal stewardship to manoeuvre through the intricacies of criteria, calculation, and potentially modifying existing arrangements to adapt to ever-changing circumstances. To this end, if you find yourself on the precipice of managing spousal maintenance waters, reaching out to a seasoned team like Family Lawyers Mackay can provide clarity, direction, and support. Thus, as we conclude, let us affirm the importance of informed decisions and expert guidance in spousal maintenance, ensuring justice and fairness for all parties involved.

Source: Finances and property: Spousal maintenance

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