What is spousal maintenance?

What is spousal maintenance?

Spousal maintenance simply refers to any financial support from one former partner to another, after the end of their relationship. This remedy is available for former married and de facto couples and can take the form of a regular payments or a lump sum.


When does a court award spousal maintenance as a remedy?

In essence, the family court adopts a “need versus ability to pay” approach when deciding whether to award a spousal maintenance remedy to a party. This means that they will consider whether an applicant has the ability to meet their own personal needs or not. The circumstances that may necessitate this remedy can include:

  • Older age and/or poor health, resulting in inability to find employment;
  • Significant responsibilities for children that prohibit the ability to work;
  • If the nature and length of your previous relationship has impacted your income earning capacity (e.g. no longer being in the workforce or updating skills due to other familial responsibilities).


“I’m entitled to the same lifestyle I had before”

This is easily one of the biggest misconceptions about spousal maintenance we still hear. The whole purpose of any sort of continuing maintenance is needs based, not lifestyle based. It is about whether, due largely to a previous relationship, one party is unable to support themselves on their own.

Keep realistic about your maintenance expectations as separation brings on a change in circumstances. This will always create a difference in how you spend money or manage your finances.


Get advice at the earliest possible stage

Like any family law issue, the question of spousal maintenance can become complex. New relationships, questions of “needs versus ability” after a relationship ends, and competing needs of any children, can all impact your ability to access this remedy. Getting the right advice to your situation is crucial. We pride ourselves on being the family lawyers that clients, like you, can turn to.


Please call us now on (08) 9381 0208 or fill out this form to schedule your first 30-min free telephone appointment. The availability of spousal maintenance will be different for every situation, and we are the family lawyer clients can help you assess what options best suit your life.


You can also visit the Family Court of WA for more information about spousal maintenance.

Posted in: Family Law  Property & Financial  Separation & Divorce