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What is a financially dependent spouse entitled to after separation?

If you are currently in the middle of – or facing – a breakdown of your marriage or de facto relationship, you are most certainly wondering who gets what assets. This will especially be the case if your ex-partner met most of – if not all of – the expenses for the household. 

So, what is a financially dependent spouse entitled to after separation? No two situations are the same but, broadly speaking, your entitlement will be guided by your contributions to the relationship, whether those contributions were financial, non-financial or homemaker duties. You can be rest assured that non-financial contributions will generally be taken into account and weighed up against financial contributions.

What non-financial contributions are considered?

As mentioned before, the Court will recognise a variety of contributions that have been made to the relationship, including non-financial or homemaker duties. In long relationships (more than 15-20 years) the non-financial or homemaker contributions are typically considered equal to financial contributions. 

The Courts will recognise a variety of non-financial contributions, including:

  • Homemaker duties such as cleaning, cooking and house management
  • Looking after children
  • Nursing activities such as looking after a partner’s elderly parent
  • Money management and entrepreneurial expertise
  • Working in a family business without payment

After considering non-financial contributions, the Court will determine the percentage of the matrimonial property pool and assets that a financially dependent spouse is entitled to.

What future needs are considered?

The Court will also consider the future needs of each party when considering what a financially dependent spouse is entitled to after separation. Generally, it is an evaluation of a number of factors that will affect an individual’s capacity to work and support themselves in the future. 

These factors include:

  • The care of any dependent children, meaning that you are unable to work
  • Any health conditions which affect your capacity to work or that will require further financial resources to assist with care
  • Financial resources that are available to you
  • Whether you have not worked for a number of years and, therefore, require reskilling or retraining
  • Any discrepancy in the income or earning capacities of each party
  • Any large discrepancy in your ages

Agreeing on the division of assets

Being able to negotiate and agree to a property settlement with your ex-partner without resorting to Court proceedings has some major benefits. If you are fortunate enough to be able to reach an agreement on assets, it is recommended that you formalise the agreement to ensure it is binding and enforceable. This will limit any future disputes or claims which could be made by your ex-partner. 

If you and your partner cannot agree, you can:

  • Negotiate privately through lawyers
  • Attend a mediation with a government-run mediation centre 
  • Attend a private mediation with a mediator experienced in family law 
  • Commence proceedings in the Federal Circuit Court to have the matter independently decided by a Judge

At Geldard Sherrington Lawyers we understand the emotional stress caused by the breakdown of family relationships, which is why we strive to offer expert advice and service in this area of law. Call through to our friendly team anytime on (07) 4194 5422 to discuss further what is a financially dependent spouse is entitled to after separation.

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