How To Apply For Spousal Maintenance

You've figured out that you may be entitled to spousal maintenance but you are not quite sure how to get it.

Well, in this article we're going to show you how to do just that.

We're going to take you through the steps you need to complete in order to successfully get a spousal maintenance order:

  1. 1
    Prove that you (the applicant) are unable to support yourself adequately; 
  2. 2
    Prove that your former spouse (the payer) is reasonably able to pay your spousal maintenance;
  3. 3
    Make the application. 

So let's get into it.

Spousal maintenance

Step 1: Establish that you (the applicant) are unable to adequately support yourself.

To prove that you are unable to adequately support yourself, you must provide evidence about what your reasonable weekly needs are.

These may include things like:

  • rent; 
  • electricity;
  • groceries;
  • medical related expenses;
  • petrol,

just to name a few. 

Then you must be able to show that you yourself do not have the ability to meet those reasonable needs.

You'll have to file evidence about your income, including any entitlement to government benefits. However, being entitled to government benefits may not reduce your entitlement to spousal maintenance.

Spousal maintenance

Once you've provided evidence about what your needs are and the fact that you cannot meet those needs, you must then be able to show that your former spouse can meet the reasonable needs that you are claiming.

Which takes us to step two.

Step 2: Establish that your former spouse/ partner (the payer) is able to meet your reasonable needs.

This can be proved by, for example, showing a surplus amount in their income each week. 

Your former spouse will therefore need to provide evidence on their income and any financial resources available to them and their expenses.

If you can then point to a surplus in their income each week or a resource available to them to meet your needs, then you have satisfied this second step.

Spousal maintenance

If you can do both of these steps, then you are likely to be successful in your application for spousal maintenance.

Step 3: Apply for spousal maintenance

In order to apply for spousal maintenance, you must file 3 documents: 

  1. 1
    An Initiating Application 

This is a document that sets out the amount you are seeking each week or month or as a lump sum. 

  1. 2
    An Affidavit

This document is a statement of facts. It is what you will rely upon to argue why you should receive spousal maintenance. For example, it should explain your prospects of employment and reasons why you cannot gain employment, if that is the valid reason.

  1. 3
    A Financial Statement

A financial statement is a document where you will set out all of your reasonable weekly needs and all of your income. 

Time limits to apply. 

Now, there are time limits surrounding when you can apply for spousal maintenance.

These are the same time limits that apply to a property settlement.

So it's:

  • one (1) year from the date of your divorce order if you were married; and
  • two (2) years from the date of separation if you were in a de facto relationship.

Of course, if the Court grants you 'leave', which is basically permission, you may be able to bring an application outside of those time frames.

Spousal maintenance

If you are successful in your application, then spousal maintenance may be paid to you:

  • Periodically, e.g. a weekly or monthly amount; or
  • As a lump sum, e.g. a one off $30,000 payment. 

It may even be paid in other ways such as paying your mortgage or your rent repayments.

Importantly to note as well, spousal maintenance is in addition to a property settlement.

For example, just because you've received a lump sum spousal maintenance this does not come off your final property settlement that you may be entitled to.

Spousal maintenance

If you have any questions about spousal maintenance or the application process, please feel free to give us a call on 1300 767 384.

We offer free, 15 minute phone consultations where you can ask any questions you may have. It'll also gives our qualified family lawyers an opportunity to give you further advice about your situation.

Alternatively, you can always email us at [email protected]

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