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Spouse Maintenance

Pursuant to section 72 of the Family Law Act (and s.90SF(1) for de facto couples), each party to a marriage is obligated to maintain their spouse having regard to their respective needs and abilities to pay.

When might spouse maintenance be necessary?

Having considered the financial circumstances of each party, spouse maintenance may be necessary to adjust for the disparity between each party’s incomes or earning capacities having regard to each of their respective needs. ‘Needs’ include, but are not limited to:-

  • Rent/mortgage;
  • Food;
  • Medical or pharmaceutical expenses;
  • Utilities; and
  • other necessary expenses of the individual households.

Spouse maintenance is more commonly paid following separation until property settlement. It can be paid to enable the payee (recipient) to retrain, re-enter the workforce and/or re-establish themselves financially.


When does a spouse maintenance liability arise?

In circumstances where:

  • one party, the applicant “is unable to support herself or himself adequately” for an adequate reason; and
  • the other party, the respondent has a capacity to support the applicant.

Your inability to support yourself arises when your necessary weekly expenses exceeds your weekly income.

A capacity to support the other party arises when your weekly income exceeds your necessary expenses.

Not all family law matters require the payment of interim spouse maintenance. At Parry Coates Family Law, we provide spouse maintenance advice during our initial meeting with you.


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