How To Calculate Spousal Maintenance?

Step 1: Know whether you are eligible to apply

The area of spousal maintenance can be quite complicated and whether an amount is awarded depends on many different things. There is no 'calculator' to give you an exact amount that you would be required to pay however you might be able to get an idea by understanding what law says. A person might be able to apply for spousal maintenance if they have a care of a child under 18, if they are unable to be employed due to their age or physical/mental ability and for any other appropriate reason.

Check out the Family Law Act 1975 s90SB about spousal maintenance for de facto relationships and whether a de facto can apply for spousal maintenance.

Step 2: Understand what the law says

There are a long list of matters that the court can take into account when considering an application for spousal maintenance however they are restricted only to this list. These considerations include:

  • the income, finances and property of the parties
  • the commitments of each party that are necessary to support themselves
  • whether the person has care of a child not yet turned 18 years old
  • whether a maintenance payment would increase that person's earning capacity

Have a look at the Family Law Act s75(2) for the whole list. A main consideration that the court takes into account is whether the person seeking spousal maintenance cannot support themselves without that maintenance and whether the person paying spousal maintenance can support themselves while paying that maintenance.

Step 3: Understand your finances

To know whether you are entitled to spousal maintenance, or whether you need to pay it, you need to understand your financial position. Sort out your tax returns, arrange for child support payments, work your budget (income and expenses) and also do this for the other person. You might then be able to answer the question of whether a person can support themselves without payment and whether the other is able to continue their life while making payments.

Step 4: Make/respond to the application

You do not have to go to court to make an application for spousal maintenance if you are able to get an agreement. Have a look at our How To Guide, How to get a separation agreement, for more information on that. If you can't get an agreement, you may end up in court. You are able to make an application for spousal maintenance, along with property settlement, by initiating court proceedings. All of the information we have discussed above, you will need to provide to the court so that they are able to assess the application. The court can make various orders such as lump sum payments, on-going payments (life time and limited), transfer of property or make any order they think is appropriate.


We are Family Court lawyers who are experienced in providing divorce and separation legal advice in parenting and financial disputes. We have many years experience in dealing with financial settlement like those including spousal maintenance agreements or applications.

Contact us for more information or to book a free legal advice session to find out your options.

This information does not constitute legal advice. You should consult with a lawyer to obtain independent legal advice relevant to your situation.

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