Information on Family Legal Matters

Spousal maintenance QLD – Everything you need to know

After the breakdown of a serious relationship, questions and concerns surrounding spousal maintenance and financial support will usually arise. But what exactly is it and how does it work?

Waller Family Lawyers recognise the nuanced and personal nature of each relationship. We pride ourselves on our ability to support and educate our clients to achieve the best outcome for them.

Continue reading to learn what spousal maintenance is, how it works, and how to apply in the state of Queensland.

spousal maintanance

What is spousal maintenance in QLD?

When a married or de facto couple separates, a spouse may have the right to obtain financial support from the other party. This support is referred to as spousal maintenance and is determined by criteria outlined in the Family Law Act.

Generally, spousal support is only obtained or given if one party cannot reasonably support themselves, and is done via regular payments or one lump sum payment.

Spousal maintenance is usually negotiated during a property settlement, so all financial elements are covered at the same time. To ensure you receive what you are entitled to, it’s highly recommended that you seek legal advice before agreeing to any financial agreements.


How long does spousal maintenance last?

Depending on the type of spousal maintenance ordered, it can be paid for an indefinite period of time or until a set end date. There are three main types of spousal maintenance:

Urgent spousal maintenance orders

Urgent applications generally only apply when the receiving party is completely ‘cut off’ and needs immediate financial assistance to meet their basic needs, such as food and housing. The applicant must prove they desperately need support and that their circumstance would worsen if the Court delayed the hearing by thoroughly investigating both parties.

Interim spousal maintenance orders

Interim maintenance has the same requirements as a final maintenance application; however, the order is only made for a specified amount of time, usually, if the Court is experiencing delays and the receiving party needs interim funding to meet their basic needs or reasonable legal expenses. Unlike urgent applications, the Court will only approve interim maintenance after hearing evidence from both parties.

Final spousal maintenance

As the name suggests, Final spousal maintenance is the final sum ordered by the Court to be paid to the receiving party. This payment is only approved once the Court is satisfied with the evidence provided by both parties.


Am I eligible to receive spousal maintenance?

After the breakdown of a marriage, the Family Law Act states that a spouse may seek financial maintenance if they are unable to support themselves adequately due to:

  • Their duty of care for a child of the marriage under the age of 18
  • Their inability to work due to age or physical or mental incapacity
  • Any other adequate reason.

Those in a de facto relationship have extra criteria to fulfil to claim maintenance:

  • The relationship lasted at least two years
  • There is a child of the relationship (including adopted and foster children)
  • The applicant made a substantial contribution during the relationship
  • The relationship was legally registered

As each relationship is highly unique, financial support orders are made on a case-by-case basis. As the Family Law experts, we can advise you on your best course of action and help prepare your application for success.



How do I apply for spousal maintenance?

How you apply for spousal maintenance in QLD will depend on the nature of your relationship. For example, if you and your spouse are on good terms during separation, you can choose to come to a private financial agreement and apply for a consent order to make it legally binding.

Suppose you cannot reach a mutual agreement with your spouse. In that case, the law states that you must attend mediation sessions. Here, an experienced mediator will encourage a mutually beneficial outcome by facilitating healthy discussions between both parties.

If mediation fails, your final option is to approach the Federal Circuit and Family Court to make a final spousal maintenance order.

What affects the payment amount?

Regardless of the scenario, the same factors apply to determining the funding required. Here are just some of the factors that the Court may consider when making a final decision:

  • The age and physical/mental capacity of each party for gainful employment
  • The income, property and assets of each partner
  • Which party is responsible for the care of a child/children in the relationship
  • Reasonable living standards for both spouses
  • How long the relationship lasted
  • Whether the relationship had an impact on the income-earning capacity of either party

Are there any time limits when applying for spousal maintenance?

As it is typically handled during property settlement, the same time limits apply when applying for spousal maintenance in QLD. For married couples, you must apply within one year of the official divorce order date. For de facto couples, you must apply within two years of the break up date.

The Court may grant exceptions to this time limit in rare cases – typically if serious hardship would occur to the applicant or child otherwise.


Do I need a lawyer to apply for spousal maintenance?

You don’t legally need a lawyer to apply for financial support in Australia. However, seeking legal advice is strongly recommended, as emotions can run high during separation, making it difficult to stay level-headed when making significant decisions.

It’s best to invest in an experienced Family lawyer to avoid jeopardising the outcomes you obtain for yourself and, in some cases, your children.


Compassionate & Affordable Family Lawyers Brisbane

At Waller Family Lawyers, we are specialists in marital and de facto relationship issues. We expertly navigate matters of divorce, property settlements, prenuptial agreements, spousal maintenance and more.

Lessen the emotional and financial stress of divorce or separation with Brisbane’s best. Contact us today to organise a fixed-fee, no-obligation discussion. We don’t enforce any time limits to this consultation, so you can feel safe and comfortable sharing the details of your situation.