The payment of spousal or de facto maintenance is a responsibility that you or your former partner might have to financially support (maintain) the other person after your separation or divorce. It is different to child maintenance.
Under the Family Law Act 1975, a person has a responsibility to financially assist their spouse or former de facto partner, if that person cannot meet their own reasonable expenses from their personal income or assets.
Where the need exists, both parties have an equal duty to support and maintain each other as far as they can. This obligation can continue even after separation and divorce. The extent of the support depends on what the other party can afford to pay.
Spousal maintenance can take the form of regular payments, usually over a defined period, or a lump sum payment.
Applications for spousal maintenance (where the parties have been married) must be made within 12 months of your divorce becoming final.
Applications for de facto partner maintenance must be made within two years of the breakdown of your de facto relationship.
If you do not apply within these time limits, you will need special permission of a court. This is not always granted.
It is a good idea to agree on maintenance when you are negotiating a property settlement so that all financial issues are sorted out at the same time.
For further information about spousal and de facto maintenance, please contact us for an initial consultation.