What is maintenance?
Maintenance is financial support payable by:

  • a husband or wife to the other;
  • a de facto husband or de facto wife to the other; or
  • a same sex partner to the other

if they are unable to support themselves adequately. In rare circumstances, the liability may continue for a long period.

Maintenance is different to child support. For information about child support, see our Child Support page.

Once a divorce becomes final, an application for maintenance must be usually brought within 12 months. For de facto and same sex couples, an application for maintenance must be usually brought within 2 years after the end of the relationship.

What does the court consider?
There is no automatic right to maintenance. The applicant must show their need for maintenance and the other party's capacity to pay. A person may be unable to support themselves adequately:

  • because of the care of a child under 18 years old;
  • because of age or physical or mental incapacity for appropriate gainful employment; or
  • for any other reason.

The applicant is entitled to a standard of living which is reasonable in all the circumstances. The court must disregard any entitlement of the applicant to any income tested pension, allowance or benefit.

If a need for maintenance has been established, the capacity of the other party to pay is considered. When assessing whether maintenance is appropriate and the level of maintenance, the court considers such factors as:

  • ages and state of health;
  • capacities for gainful employment;
  • incomes and financial resources;
  • care of a child under 18 years of age; and
  • standard of living.
Additional information
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