You may have heard of this before, or maybe you’ve seen American stories in which it is referred to as alimony. Spousal maintenance is a remedy prescribed in the Family Law Act for a former spouse to seek financial support from their ex-partner after separation. Spousal maintenance can be periodical or lump-sum payments made by one of the parties to the other, either during the separation period, at settlement or, less commonly, on an ongoing basis.

It is a financial payment that is separate from child support: this type of payment is to support an ex-spouse rather than the children of a marriage. If one party has a need for financial support and the other partner has the ability to pay, then the person with the need may be entitled to bring a spousal maintenance application.

Spousal maintenance can be either agreed upon without the parties attending court, or, if an agreement cannot be reached, an application can be made to the court seeking that it be paid.

Spousal maintenance applications can be complex. If you are either making an application or defending an application, it is important that you are in a position to fully disclose and explain your current financial position and likely position after a property settlement.

It is highly recommended that you seek legal advice if you think you are eligible for spousal maintenance or if an application has been made seeking that you pay spousal maintenance.