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Spousal maintenance

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What is spousal maintenance?

Spousal maintenance refers to the financial support provided by one spouse to another after the breakdown of a marriage. 

The right of spousal maintenance is contained in section 72 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (‘The Act’). Section 72(1) provides three criteria for receiving spousal support.

Those being: 

  1. having the care and control of a child of the marriage who has not attained the age of 18 years;
  2. age or physical or mental incapacity for appropriate gainful employment; or
  3. for any other adequate reason;

Under section 90SE of The Act, partners in a de facto relationship can also receive spousal support if their relationship meets jurisdictional requirements.  

Section 90SB of The Act details that spousal maintenance for de facto relationships may be filed if:

  • the de facto relationship lasted at least two years; or
  • there is a child of the de facto relationship; or 
  • that the party to the de facto relationship which applies for the order or declaration made substantial contributions
  • that a failure to make the order or declaration would result in serious injustice to the applicant; or
  • that the relationship is or was registered under a prescribed law of a State or Territory.

In emergency circumstances, a party in a spousal maintenance proceeding may make an application for the following:

  • Interim orders under s 74(1); or
  • Urgent orders under s 77
It is important to note there are separate time limitations for marriages and de facto relationships to apply for spousal maintenance. It is essential to contact an experienced family law solicitor to understand your rights and obligations. Call our office on (02) 8084 9929 today for advice tailored to you.


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