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This article was written by Michelle Makela - Legal Practice Director

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (state and federal industrial tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

Spousal Maintenance V Interim Property Settlement


Spousal maintenance can be defined as financial support paid by one party to their former partner in circumstances where:

  • The party seeking an order for spousal maintenance is unable to support himself/herself to an adequate standard and therefore has a need for funds; and
  • The other party has the capacity to provide financial support to the other party.

The party seeking the order must be able to establish these two elements (need and capacity) to satisfy the court the order is needed.

The payment of spousal maintenance is intended to meet all reasonable living costs for the party in need such as rent, food, clothing and other reasonable expenses. Orders for the payment of spousal maintenance can be made on an interim or on a final basis, depending upon the needs of the party seeking the order.

What Is An Interim Property Settlement?

An interim property settlement is the distribution of assets (which form part of the asset pool to be divided between the parties) between separated parties pending a final property settlement.

Commonly an interim distribution of assets can include:

  • A portion or all of the proceeds of the sale of the former matrimonial home; or
  • Funds held in a joint bank account.

An interim distribution of funds may be required to ensure a party has the capacity to meet ongoing legal fees pending a final hearing or to preserve the asset pool.

Any assets that are distributed to a party on an interim basis will form part of the asset pool available for division between the parties and will be taken into consideration by the court when making a final order for the asset pool to be divided.

Spousal Maintenance v Interim Property Settlement – The Distinction

The distinction between an interim property settlement and spousal maintenance is that spousal maintenance does not form part of the asset pool (of which an interim property settlement does) and is paid from a parties’ income or financial resources.

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