Can I afford to separate? Can I get financial support from my ex?

Spousal support after separation is a big issue.

We frequently see the breakdown of relationships whereby one party is in control of the household finances and is the main breadwinner while the other party is primarily responsible for raising children and running the household.

The Court recognises the importance of all types of contributions to family life but at separation it can feel like the homemaker has limited ability to enforce their rights against the main breadwinner.

For obvious financial reasons and in some cases for more subtle psychological reasons, a less well-off party may meekly accept a substandard offer because they have been misinformed by statements from their former spouse like “I paid for this house so it’s mine by law” or “Agree to this or you will get nothing”. As lawyers, frequently hear these types of lines from clients.

To put it frankly, if you hear something like that from your former spouse it is almost certainly incorrect.

Psychological dependency, as well as financial reliance, can lead to poor decision making. When coupled with a lack of knowledge, this can have disastrous consequences for a person’s long term future.

By contrast a wealthier and less scrupulous party will have immediate access to quality strategic and legal advice and can quickly use this to their advantage to squeeze the party who doesn’t have access to the family finances into a bad settlement. Often these pitiful offers of settlement will be presented as being incredibly generous. Desperate people settle their matters, compromising their future for their short term economic and emotional survival.

If you are separated and find yourself in this position, you need legal advice urgently prior to accepting a settlement.

This type of dynamic emerges often and the Family Court recently explored the issue of financial imbalance between parties in Ryder & Bonham [2017] Fam CA 979 as recently as last month.

A competent family lawyer can help you enforce your rights in three main ways.

  1. Seeking a partial property distribution
    In many instances, a partial property distribution can be made to help you meet your ongoing expenses prior to a final settlement of your property matter.
  2. Payment of legal Costs/Barro Orders
    It would not be equitable for you to only have access to the cheapest lawyers or even no lawyer while your former partner has access to an Accredited Specialist. You may be able to receive a costs order in your favour whereby your partner is required to pay your legal fees in order to maintain an even playing field.
  3. Interim spousal maintenance
    If you have relied on your former spouse’s income you can apply for them to continue to pay for expenses through their income as opposed to the sale of property.

As Accredited Family Law Specialists we can consider your needs and will seek orders according to the facts of your case. By understanding your circumstances, we can help find a solution. Call Rowan Skinner and Associates Lawyers today.