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Megan Dansie

- 17 Mar 2015
  • Family Law

Maintenance man: Can the Family Court make women pay maintenance too?

It is a common myth that when a couple separates, the husband is the one who will be ordered to pay regular money or what is called “spousal maintenance” to the wife.

In reality, the law doesn’t work like that and, if a man can meet the criteria, the court may decide that it is the woman who needs to pay.

These regular payments are designed to help with necessary living expenses for people who do not or cannot earn enough to live without help from their former partner.

Some de facto partners can also apply for this if they have a child together or have lived with their partner for at least 2 years.

Remember though, you are not automatically entitled to this money and it usually only continues until a property settlement is finalised.

To apply successfully you will have to prove that there is a shortfall between reasonable living expenses that you cannot fulfil.

Situations that may qualify include: being unable to work because of poor health, age, caring for young children, having to retrain to enter the workforce, being unable to find work, or needing help with mortgage repayments until a property settlement is reached.

You will also only be given maintenance if your spouse can actually afford to pay it, taking into account child support and reasonable living expenses.

A judge may find that you do have a need, but that your spouse cannot afford to pay.

If you have concerns about your ability to support yourself, speak to a lawyer about the possibility of getting maintenance.