top of page

Legal update - Simpkin & Simpkin and spousal maintenance

Updated: Jan 14, 2021

Last year in the matter of Simpkin & Simpkin [2020] FamCAFC 315 (17 December 2020) the Family Court in Sydney increased an order for spousal maintenance based upon an appeal by the wife. As often happens in Family Court judgments there is also a useful summary of some of the basic principles in relation to spousal maintenance.


The Respondent had been ordered on 1 June 2020 to pay interim spousal maintenance by a weekly amount of $750, and a lump sum payment of $10,000.

The applicant had originally sought $1,800 and $20,000, as well as payment towards her legal costs. The lump sum payment related to medical equipment that she needed. The applicant had been medically retired from work and qualified for a disability pension.

The appeal

The applicant sought, on appeal, that the respondent pay her $1,378 as weekly interim spousal maintenance on the basis the primary judge failed to take into account a relevant consideration. The appeal was heard by a single Judge (Ryan J) on 17 December 2020.

There was no challenge made to the finding that the applicant could not support herself, or to the finding regarding either party's reasonable needs, or to the finding that the respondent had the capacity to pay spousal maintenance generally. The primary judge and the appeal judge seemed to agree to dismiss that part of the respondent's expenses which related to supporting the party's adult son, who worked full time.

The primary judge had decided to make provision for less than the applicant needed, and less than the primary judge found the respondent could spare, due to the vicissitudes of life. On appeal, Ryan J found that the respondent could, if he suffered his feared set back, resort to s83 of the Act and apply for the maintenance order to be varied or discharged.

In relation to the order sought in for payment towards the applicant's legal fees, while the appeal Judge found that the applicant should not have to rely upon her savings or superannuation to meet her weekly living expenses, the Judge also felt that the applicant should rely upon her savings or superannuation to meet her legal expenses. It was felt that this need to pay legal fees from superannuation or savings could be taken into account at the final settlement or judgement.

The parties had agreed that if the appeal was successful then rather than remit it for rehearing the Court should make an order based upon the evidence, as such an order was made increasing the weekly payment to $1,378 as sought by the Applicant.


Starting a new firm?

Are you starting a new firm in 2021, or did you start a new firm in 2020? Join us for our events in January where we have a practical discussion about running your business. Click on the relevant image to find out more.

If you have an established firm and you would just like to join in for two of the marketing topics then you can do that too. If you book a demo with Shannel Fanous before 21 January 2021 then you can have those recordings sent to you for free.

Our marketing or sales topics on the day include -

  • You are one person - using who you are to sell what you do - Jane Oxley @ Smokeball - read more about her talk here

  • Marketing - marketing yourself and networking to build your firm - Fiona Kirkman @ FamilyProperty

  • Where to find clients and how to automate responses to new enquiries - Janis Donnelly-Coode from Janis Consults

  • Marketing your firm - a panel discussion about the major platforms and the advantages and disadvantages of using each - Instagram, Facebook, and SEO / content generation - Kristal @ Coastal Lawyers - Janis @ Janis Consults - Monica from The Small Business Lounge

If you are interested in these topics then you can book yourself in with Shannel (here) or you can reach out to Janis at

228 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page