I earn more than him – does that mean I will have to pay spousal maintenance?

Spousal maintenance is a payment from one person (of a marriage or de facto relationship) to the other for the purposes of:

  1. Maintaining the person seeking maintenance to the extent that the other person is reasonably able to do so; and
  2. Only if the person seeking maintenance is unable to support themselves adequately for a range of ‘adequate’ reasons.

Adequate reasons include but are not limited to:

  1. Having the care of a child of the marriage under the age of 18; or
  2. By reason of age, physical or mental incapacity for appropriate gainful employment. 

Spousal maintenance is not a payment for children, it is a payment for the former spouse.

A spousal maintenance payment is not an automatic payment just because one earns more than the other, although that is one of the factors that must be considered. 

Other factors that must be considered are:

  1. The age and state of health of each party;
  2. The income, property and financial resources of each party and the physical and mental capacity of each of them for appropriate gainful employment;
  3. Whether either party has the care of a child or children of the marriage under 18 years old;
  4. The commitments necessary to enable the party to support themselves and a child or another person that party has a duty to maintain;
  5. The standard of living in all reasonable circumstances;
  6. The above list is not exhaustive.

Spousal maintenance can be agreed to between the parties in a private agreement or incorporated into any consent orders or one party can commence proceedings in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia seeking an order.

The Court considers maintenance in two broad categories:

  1. Urgent spousal maintenance – where a party is in need of immediate financial assistance;
  2. Spousal maintenance.

If you are in need of spousal maintenance or are concerned about your former spouse claiming it from you, give us a call to discuss your matter further on (02) 4929 4499 or book online

Jade Evelyn

17 Jun, 2022

The information in this article is intended to provide general information only and does not constitute legal advice. If you require legal advice specific to your particular circumstances, you must formally engage a lawyer or law firm. The law is subject to change, and whilst we strive to keep our content up-to-date, developments may occur after publication. The information contained on our website should not be relied upon or used as a definitive or complete statement of the relevant law. Mason Lawyers takes no responsibility for any use of the information provided. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

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