entitiled to alimony?

Know Your Obligation as Spousal Maintenance

Spousal Maintenance or Alimony, is the amount a spouse or a partner can claim from the other spouse or partner for living. Spousal maintenance can be paid as periodical payments or settle by paying in one lumpsum amount.

Usually, the couple enter an agreement for providing the other spouse as maintenance while separating. This forms part of financial agreement. If the couple cannot agree to spousal maintenance amount, both or either of them can apply to court for decree on maintenance.

Various Relationships and Spousal Maintenance


Marriage: If the couple are legally wedded by Australian Family Law, the spouse can claim maintenance for his/her living from the other spouse.

De facto Relationship (Heterosexual couple): If the de facto couple are separating on or after 1st March 2009, they can claim spousal maintenance like other wedded couples.

However, the de facto couple must meet either of the criteria to claim maintenance:

  • There are child/ children out of the de facto relationship.
  • The de facto relationship is at least 2 years old.
  • Significant financial contribution is made to the de facto relationship by either of the partners.
  • The de facto relationship is registered under any of the Australian State Laws.


De facto Relationship (Same Sex Couple): The same sex couple in de facto relationship are governed by the same maintenance laws, as applied to de facto relationships.


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How to Calculate Spousal Maintenance:


There is no actual formula to calculate spousal maintenance unlike, child support. Several factors are considered to arrive at maintenance amount:

  • How much each partner pays towards child support
  • Age, health, earning capacity and medical conditions of the spouse/ partner
  • Whether and how much a spouse’s earning capacity is affected by being in the relationship
  • If the child/ children reside with the spouse

There is a time limit for claiming spousal maintenance from your spouse / partner.

If you are married you should claim the maintenance within one year of your divorce decree.

And if you are in de facto relationship, you should claim maintenance within 2 years of your separation.

When to stop paying Spousal Maintenance


Don’t panic! You need not pay spousal maintenance endlessly. There are few life situations, that end your liability to pay spousal maintenance to your spouse/ partner.

  1. If your ex remarries or enters a de facto relationship
  2. If your ex-spouse / partner’s income earning capacity has improved
  3. If your ex-spouse / partner is not paying child support anymore either the child has reached 18 years of age or is not been living with your spouse anymore

This is how spousal maintenance is paid / claimed in separation and divorce events.

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Spousal maintenance is a boon as well to exploit the ex-partner. A partner who has long been at home or has any kind of disadvantage in upscaling his/her income earning capacity has the right to claim spousal maintenance as compensation and a booster for his/her upcoming life.

Spousal maintenance can also become a means to exploit the ex-partner, as one partner can pretend to be incapacitated in any way to earn for a living or unable to meet the daily living needs; thereby, burdening his/her ex-partner with spousal maintenance.

A divorce lawyer can be of great assistance in this regard to understand the truth behind the spousal maintenance claim and guide you to act accordingly.

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