Spousal Maintenance: Time Limits

Is there a Time Limit to seek Payment of Spousal Maintenance 

What is the Time Limit

A strict time limit does apply to making an application to the Court for Spousal Maintenance if you are applying for spousal maintenance for the first time.

Once an order has previously been made for the payment of Spousal Maintenance, time limits do not apply.

An application to vary an existing spousal maintenance order is not subject to the following time limits.

You can make an application to the Court for Spousal Maintenance as soon as you need after you have separated but there is a maximum time limit.

You may be separated and living under the same roof and still able to apply for Spousal Maintenance. You do not need to be living separately to apply for Spousal Maintenance, nor do you need to be divorced.

When do you need to go to Court for Spousal Maintenance

If an Order for spousal maintenance has not been made before, there must be an Application made to the Court for spousal maintenance within:



  • 1 year of their divorce becoming absolute for married couples; or
  • 2 years of separation for de facto couples.

A divorce becomes absolute when a Certificate of Divorce is actually issued by the Court which is usually 1 month and 1 day after the Divorce Hearing at which the divorce is granted.

When the Spousal Maintenance Time Limit has Expired

If you did not make your application to the Court for Spousal Maintenance within the time limit applicable to you, you need the leave of the Court to make your application.

Obtaining leave of the Court means you need special permission of the Court to bring your application for Spousal Maintenance even though the time limit has expired. Leave of the Court is not always or automatically granted.

An application to the court outside the time limit will only be granted in limited circumstances.

Spousal Maintenance: More you should know

There is a list of things the law says the court must consider when determining whether a person should be ordered to pay Spousal Maintenance to their former spouse. You can see all of those issues outlined in our information sheet List of matters considered for whether Spousal Maintenance is payable.

Our separate information sheet Can I get paid Spousal Maintenance outlines additional information as to when Spousal Maintenance is payable and it also gives examples of common situations in which an Order for Spousal Maintenance might be made by a Court.

You must be eligible to apply for Spousal Maintenance. More about eligibility to seek payment of Spousal Maintenance is set out in our information sheet: Who can apply for Spousal Maintenance.

Our information sheet Frequently answered questions about Payment of Spousal Maintenance sets out more information about:

  • Period Payments or Lump Sum Spousal Maintenance;
  • What if Financial Circumstances change
  • What if my former spouse fails to make payments;
  • When do periodic Spousal Maintenance payments end.

So if Spousal Maintenance is payable, how is the amount of Spousal Maintenance to be paid calculated?


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