Spousal maintenance is money paid by a spouse (including de facto spouse) to their former spouse. It occurs in circumstances where the former partner or spouse is unable to adequately support themselves.
To be eligible for maintenance, the low/no income earner must be unable to support themselves because of their age, health, responsibility to care for a child of the relationship under 18 or some other good reason.
There are also time limitations within which you can apply for maintenance, namely:
- At any stage up until twelve (12) months after the date of your divorce; or
- Within two (2) years of the breakdown of your de facto relationship.
If you do not apply within those time limits, you will need leave (that is; permission) from the Court. This is not always granted and is often a difficult and costly exercise.
Applications for maintenance are tricky, because the law does not set out a specific formula to determine how much needs to be paid. It is a matter for the discretion of the Court and expert legal advice will assist you to assess your prospects of successfully pursuing or defending an application for maintenance.