What Are Spousal And De Facto Maintenance Laws In Australia?

December 23, 2021    Familylawyers
What Are Spousal And De Facto Maintenance Laws In Australia?

A person must financially help their spouse or former de facto relationship if they are unable to cover their reasonable expenses from their personal income or assets, according to the Family Law Act of 1975.

When a need arises, both partners have an equal obligation to support and maintain each other to the best of their abilities. This commitment might remain even after a divorce or separation. The amount of assistance is determined by how much the other party can afford to pay and the skill of the de facto lawyers hired.

What Is Spousal Maintenance?

The weekly maintenance paid by one spouse from their salary to support the other spouse is known as spousal maintenance. Spousal support is accepting both parties’ mutual responsibility to maintain each other in a marriage or de facto partnership.

Many people are unaware that they may be required to pay or receive spousal support payments from their former partner.

Common Misconception

Spouse maintenance is not to be confused with child support or maintenance. Child support and child maintenance are payments made for the children’s support. The former partner’s assistance is paid through spousal maintenance.

Importantly, spousal maintenance and the notion of spouse maintenance apply across Australia.

Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance is money paid by one party to a marriage to the other party’s husband or wife (or former husband or wife) when they cannot sustain themselves.

De Facto Maintenance

Financial support paid by the partner that has ended to their former de facto partner in circumstances when they are unable to sustain themselves is known as de facto maintenance.

According to de facto law, only if your de facto relationship meets certain jurisdictional requirements can the Court issue an order.


When a relationship ends, a party is responsible for financially supporting their ex-partner.

If you cannot satisfy your reasonable expenses from personal income or assets, the other party may be obligated to pay maintenance. For instance, if you are unable to effectively sustain yourself due to:

  • You are responsible for the care of a child under the age of eighteen.
  • You are unable to find suitable employment because of your age or health.
  • The length of the relationship and the impact it had on your earning potential

When a need arises, both partners have an equal obligation to support and maintain each other to the best of their abilities. This commitment might remain even after a divorce or separation.

Do You Have To Pay Maintenance If You’re in a De Facto Relationship?

In Australia, both married couples and partners in a de facto relationship may be entitled to claim maintenance. Whether you are married or in a de facto relationship, the grounds for claiming maintenance are largely the same. Many people are taken aback by this and are unaware that they may be liable for maintenance because they share a home with another person.

The Family Law Act (1975)

The Family Law Act (1975) provides for spousal and de facto maintenance, which allows you to seek financial assistance from your spouse or ex-spouse. This usually occurs after a separation or divorce when your income and other financial resources are insufficient to cover your reasonable expenses.

A spouse has the right to seek financial support under section 72 of the Family Law Act (1975) for the following reasons:

  • They are in charge of youngsters under the age of eighteen.
  • They are unable to work owing to a mental or physical handicap.
  • Any other appropriate motive, such as their marriage, impacted their earning capacity.

How Can You Apply For Spousal Support?

There are two ways to apply for spousal maintenance:

  • Both spouses can strike an agreement directly.
  • Or they can take the case to court and file a court order.

It is normally recommended that you try to strike an arrangement with your spouse outside of the courtroom with the help of Spousal Maintenance Lawyers.

Court Order

If a mutual agreement is not attainable, filing a financial order is the next best option. An application with relevant evidence, such as proof of expenses, income, assets, age, and health condition, will be required.

After you’ve filed the relevant documents, you should notify your spouse or ex-spouse about the application. Within 14 days, they must file a response, including the financial information. After then, the court will assess the case and issue equitable financial orders to both parties.

When Should You Submit An Application?

The spousal maintenance documentation must be filed within a certain amount of time. If you’re divorced, you must apply for a court order within 12 months of the date of your annulment or divorce. In the event of separated couples, the application must be submitted within two years after the date of separation.

If you don’t file for a financial order within the aforesaid time frames, you’ll need the Court’s authorization, which is rare.

When Is Spousal Support In Order?

Unlike the right to a property settlement, the right to spousal maintenance is not automatic. The party seeking spousal maintenance must demonstrate that they cannot sustain themselves adequately and that the other party is reasonably capable of doing so.

The courts will consider several criteria while deciding whether or not to make a spousal maintenance order, including:

  • the supervision and care of children under the age of eighteen
  • the parties’ ages and health conditions
  • the ability to work for a living
  • the parties’ respective income, assets, and financial resources
  • the parties’ entitlement for a pension, stipend, or benefit
  • cohabitation with any other person’s nature

Any information or situation that the court believes is relevant to the justice of the case must be considered. The facts that the courts can consider are not limited or closed. The courts have a great deal of leeway.

In Conclusion

An assessment of the parties’ respective incomes and reasonable expenses is at the heart of spousal maintenance determination. The courts’ case-by-case determination of spousal support causes a great deal of confusion in each case. It is recommended that you engage a lawyer to learn more about spousal maintenance.

You can find some of Perth’s best de facto lawyers. Their team of family lawyers are highly skilled and equipped to handle all kinds of disputes.

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