I want to separate but I’m worried about the financial implications
Family law considerations and options available for achieving financial independence following separation
Money makes the world go round and unfortunately, can be a contributing factor in whether a person decides to delay, or even avoid altogether, separating from their partner. Money is often a deciding factor when someone has little or no control over the parties’ finances which leaves them at the mercy of their partner who can ultimately determine the level of financial support that they’re willing to provide.
In some cases, this type of controlling behaviour is aligned to a history of family violence throughout the relationship. Quite often in these relationships, the person wanting to end it has significant emotional trauma and very low self-confidence, so needs to work up the courage to leave the family home. There are other cases when a person is forced to leave the family home (often with the children) on very short notice, having had no opportunity to source alternate accommodation or ensure that they are financially secure.
What are the options?
There are a range of options available to people who want to separate from their spouse but have concerns about their financial position. These options aim to give people certainty about their financial situation as they prepare to enter discussions about dividing assets, and in some cases, working out the arrangements with respect to the children.
The Family Law Act covers a range of powers which give the Court the ability to make interim orders aimed at ensuring a level playing field for parties traversing the family law process. The types of interim orders that can be made in matters include:
A. An order granting a party sole occupation of the former matrimonial home (also known as an exclusive occupation order). This type of order ensures that the party in whose favour the order is made and quite often the children, are able to continue living in a familiar environment until the parties finalise their property settlement and parenting matters.
B. An order for interim spousal maintenance. This type of order gives a party an ongoing income stream so that he/she is able to meet their living expenses pending finalisation of the matter.
C. An order granting a party a partial release of funds (known as a partial property settlement order). The Court may find it appropriate to make orders allowing a person to have access to funds immediately (for example, by drawing against a redraw facility or from savings that might be held in an account of one or both parties). These funds can be used by that party to fund expenses they may incur in the short term such as for a bond on a rental property, buying a car or funds to pay for legal fees.
These orders provide people with a sense of financial independence and mean that they are no longer reliant upon their former spouse for financial support. This can help reduce conflict that exists at the time of separation and ensures that a party isn’t exploited because they are in a weaker financial position.
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