Financial Agreements

What is Spousal Maintenance?

TGB Partner Dina Paspaliaris answers this common family law question.

TGB Partner Dina Paspaliaris answers this common family law question.


Under the Family Law Act, if you separate from your partner you or your spouse may be entitled to spousal maintenance payments.

Spousal maintenance is financial support paid by one party of a marriage/relationship to the wife or husband in circumstances where the party is unable to adequately support themselves.

The Family Law Act says that if a party cannot meet their own reasonable expenses from their personal income after separation, they can ask for assistance from their former spouse.

Under Section 72 of the Family Law Act, a person must support their former partner to the extent that they are reasonably able to do so, and only if their ex is unable to support himself or herself:

1. By reason of having care and control of the child of the marriage who is under the age of 18;

2. By reason of either physical or mental incapacity for appropriate and gainful employment; or

3. For any other adequate reason having regard to the relevant matters referred to in Section 75(2).

If an Application is brought to the Court for spousal maintenance, the Court will take into account matters including the age and state of health of each of the parties, the income, property and financial resources of the individuals, whether the parties have children in their care, commitments to the parties to care for themselves and for others.  The Court will also take into account their ability to actually pay spousal maintenance.

If a party is successful in bringing a spousal maintenance application this may be for a limited period of time or until an overall property settlement is reached.  Spousal maintenance is not automatically provided.

It is vital to obtain legal advice with respect to bringing an Application for spousal maintenance sooner rather than later, in order to avoid being at risk of a spousal maintenance Application being served upon you.

TGB is South Australia’s largest family law firm. For further information or assistance with your legal matter contact your nearest TGB office.