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
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
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.
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.
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
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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