What is Spousal Maintenance?

What is Spousal Maintenance?

In this video, Page Provan Managing Director and Accredited Family Law Specialist Bruce Provan, answers a question asked by clients: What is spousal maintenance?


My name is Bruce Provan. I’m the Managing Director of Page Provan, Family and Fertility Lawyers. We’re a firm of lawyers in central Brisbane that practises exclusively in family and fertility law.

The question we sometimes asked by clients is, what is spouse maintenance? And am I liable for spouse maintenance? Or am I entitled to spouse maintenance?

What spouse maintenance is, the situation where a couple separates and one person is in a good financial position with a good income, and that’s typically the husband, and the other person is not, and they require some financial assistance, and that is, in most cases, the wife.

So in a situation where a couple separates, the husband may… I say husband because more often than not, it is the husband, may be earning a good income, and the other parent is not, and there can be a few reasons for that.

Sometimes it’s because there are young children and the parent has stopped work to care for the young children. The other times, there might be a health or mental health issue that meant that person can’t work.

But there also can be other circumstances where a party may be in need of spousal maintenance, and in that situation, a court can make an order for one party to pay spousal maintenance to the other.

And look, most often that will be periodically, but sometimes it can be in a lump sum. So if you want to find out about your entitlement to spousal maintenance, the way it’s calculated, it’s not by way of a formula like child support.

In an application to court, the court has to look at first whether the person has a need. In other words, if they’re not able to support themselves from their current income, excluding any pension.

Now, if the court determines that the person has a need, they then have a look at the financial circumstances of the other person to see if they’ve got a capacity to pay. So they’ll look at that person’s income.

They will generally deduct tax, child support, and what it costs to maintain themselves and their other necessary financial commitments to see if that person has the capacity to pay maintenance on a periodic basis.

So spouse maintenance is different from child support. Child support is generally worked out by a way of a formula, and that’s money that is intended for one of the parents to be paid for the support of the children.

Spouse maintenance, however, is a situation where it’s maintenance for one of the persons who has been through a separation that they require. Now, spouse maintenance orders generally don’t last indefinitely.

Normally, they’re for a specified number of years, and that enables that person to be able to retrain or get back into the workforce often after children have started school to be able to support themselves.

So if you’ve got any questions about spouse maintenance, please contact us at Page Provan. My name is Bruce Provan from Page Provan, Family and Fertility Lawyers.

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