In Australia it is usually the case that spouses are expected to support themselves after separation. However there are exceptions. In some circumstances a party can claim maintenance from the other party. This is known as spousal maintenance. It is important to understand that spousal maintenance is not child support. A spouse may be entitled to it even if there are no children, the children are aged over 18 years or they are already receiving child support.
Often parties agree that one of them will pay maintenance to the other. However, the Court can order it even if agreement is not reached. The maintenance may be paid by regular payments, lump sum payments, or payment of expenses on the spouse’s behalf. Payment of home loans, rates, utilities and the like for the benefit of a spouse may be considered to be spousal maintenance. In what circumstances am I entitled to spousal maintenance?
In order to receive spousal maintenance you will need to prove that you are unable to support yourself adequately by reason of:
- Having the care and control of a child of the marriage under the age of 18 years.
- Your age or physical or mental incapacity for gainful employment, or
- For any other adequate reason, including such things as family income and resources, commitments to support oneself and children, and the standard of living that is reasonable within the context of the family.
However the other party must also have a capacity to support you. If that capacity does not exist, a claim for spousal maintenance will fail.