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What is spousal maintenance?

This is a responsibility you or your ex-partner might have to financially support (maintain) the other person after your separation or divorce. It is different to child maintenance (child support).

Generally, you will only have to pay maintenance if your ex-partner cannot support themselves and you have the capacity to contribute to their support. You can make regular payments, or pay once in a lump sum payment.

You may be able to get maintenance if you are:

  • separated or divorced from a spouse.
  • separated from a de facto partner after 1 March 2009.

If you were in a de facto relationship under Queensland law, and you separated before 1 March 2009, you have no right to maintenance, although your future needs are taken into account when property is divided.

It is a good idea to agree on maintenance when you are negotiating a property settlement so that all financial issues are sorted out at the same time. Get legal advice before agreeing to, and signing, a financial Order.


What if you cannot agree?

In most cases, the law says that you should try to resolve disputes before you go to Court. A Family Relationship Centre, Legal Aid Queensland or another family dispute resolution service may be able to help you and your ex-partner reach agreement on maintenance arrangements.

If you still cannot agree, you can apply to the Court for a financial Order. You will need to show that you need maintenance and your ex-partner is able to pay maintenance.

The Court will make financial Orders based on what is fair to both people. If an Order for maintenance is made, each person listed in the Order must follow it.


Time limits

You can apply for maintenance at any time after you separate. This can be when you decide to separate but have not left the house, at the time of separation or at any time afterwards.

There are strict time limits.

You must apply for a Court Order for spousal maintenance:

  • within one year from the date your divorce was finalised; or
  • within two years from the date your de facto relationship ended.

You can only apply to the Court for maintenance after this time in special circumstances.


When do maintenance payments stop?

The right to regular payments of maintenance ends if you get married again, unless there are special circumstances. It may also end if your:

  • financial situation improves, for example, because you are in a new de facto relationship;
  • responsibility for caring for children changes significantly; and/or
  • earning capacity improves.

To end maintenance, you need to apply to the Court to vary (change) your maintenance Orders. You can do this even if you have Final Orders.


Disclaimer: The material presented on this website is an information source only. The information on this website is written for people resident in, or affected by the laws of Queensland, Australia only. Links to other sites from this website are provided for the users’ convenience. The LGBTI Legal Service does not endorse these sites and is not responsible for the information on these sites or the use made of this information. If you have a specific legal problem, you should consult a professional legal advisor.

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