Private Law, Uncategorised

How Spousal Maintenance Could Help You Following Separation

How Spousal Maintenance Could
Help You Following Separation

If your former partner refuses to play fair, the already difficult process can be made even more difficult. If your partner was the main income earner and/or controlled all the relationship assets, you could find yourself on shaky financial ground following the separation and prior to the relationship property being divided.

You may even find that your former partner deliberately uses your precarious financial position to pressure you into giving in to their demands regarding the division of the assets.

Fortunately, there is a legal tool available which has been specifically designed for such situations – interim spousal maintenance. This is a powerful tool by which you can secure financial support during the period following separation and before the issue of relationship property is settled.

The common law considers that either party should be able to meet their reasonable needs pending the division of the relationship property. Eligibility for spousal maintenance to meet such needs depends upon various factors:

  • The ability of the parties to be (or to become) self-supporting;
  • Responsibility for the care of a child of the family;
  • The standard of living enjoyed by the parties whilst together;
  • Any physical or mental disability;
  • Inability to obtain reasonable work; and
  • The undertaking by a party of a period of education or training for the purpose of increasing their earning capacity and meeting their reasonable needs.

The Court has complete discretion to determine the amount of interim maintenance, but will have regard to the means, reasonable needs, and the financial and other responsibilities of the parties.

A party seeking spousal maintenance would normally try to reach an agreement on a maintenance sum with their former partner, but if this is not possible e.g. if the other party refuses to engage, an application can be made to the Court.

After assessing evidence submitted by the parties as to their respective needs and means, the Court will decide whether and how much interim maintenance is appropriate. These awards can have a lifespan of six months, as they are intended to be temporary. However, if proceedings drag on, the applicant may apply to the Court for further maintenance an unlimited number of times.

If you’ve recently separated and your partner is keeping you locked out of the family finances, an interim spousal maintenance claim may be just what you need. Please don’t hesitate to contact Freebairn and Hehir lawyers for any advice or assistance you would like.