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Legal Obligation under Family Law Act

Couples including married couples and de facto couples have the legal obligation under the Family Law Act to financially support each other.

In some instances, a former spouse may be required to financially support the other following separation, although there is no automatic entitlement.

Application to the Court

In the absence of an agreement, a party would need to apply to the family law courts for a determination on whether the other party is required to pay maintenance and in what amount.

Court’s Consideration

In considering such an application, the court will assess:

  • the applicant’s need for support; and
  • the other’s ability to pay.

The court will have regard to both parties’ income and ability to earn an income, the property and financial resources of the parties and any obligations to care for a child or another person, eligibility to receive a commonwealth pension or benefit, and the need to maintain a reasonable standard of living.

The court may order either:

  • an amount of spousal maintenance by way of a lump sum through the process providing that party a greater share of the assets; or
  • periodic maintenance be paid for a set period of time normally to allow the party in receipt of that maintenance to retrain to enable to earn an income.

Parties can also agree regarding spousal maintenance which can be included in a consent order or in a financial agreement.

We can help with current or future family law issues or estate planning matters.

Please contact our Accredited Family Law Specialist, Peter Pavusa on (07) 3252 5044 to discuss, or email