The most timid of clients to walk through our doors are often those who have had their financial control (and therefore their purchasing power) stripped away from them. It results in a lack of confidence to equip themselves with the necessary support services required to fight for a fair property settlement.
It is not uncommon for one person in the relationship to be the primary earner. Unfortunately, sometimes the dominant partner will forcefully emphasise their financial dominance by becoming extremely possessive of assets of the relationship. We have had clients that have been forced to ask their partners for shopping money and permission, even to buy food for the family. We have heard descriptions of the sense of dread our clients felt at the thought of approaching their partner when they know that a significant expenses has cropped up, fearing his reaction.
In a very recent case, our client was forbidden from accessing funds or drawing down on mortgages. She was excluded from financial decision making throughout the relationship, and depended largely on regular transfers of spending money from her husband. If this sounds like you, you could likely be a victim of financial abuse.
These types of situations benefit the most from early legal advice. In each case, we assisted our clients in correcting the imbalance in power, and achieving financial independence.
Surviving day to day when you have no idea when or what funds your husband may give you
If you were reliant your husband for spending money to cover even your daily expenses, plagued by ill-health which prevented you from getting a job, as our client was, it can be very distressful having to engage with an emotional abuser. In our case, we assisted our client to secure generous monthly spousal maintenance payments from her husband, at least until she was able to secure a financial settlement. Below is a summary of how courts decide whether maintenance payments are appropriate.
Maintenances payments are a useful temporary remedy that can keep you afloat financially until you finalise the property settlement. There are two types of maintenance payments:
- Spousal maintenance – available to couples who have been married.
- De facto partner maintenance – available to couples in de facto relationships.
The two major factors that will determine whether you might be successful in applying for maintenance are:
- Whether you have an immediate financial need, and a lack of capacity to adequately support yourself; and
- Whether your former partner has the capacity to pay.
The amount of the financial support will usually be determined by your age and health, your income and net assets, your earning capacity, a suitable standard of living, and whether the marriage has historically affected your ability to earn an income. For example, did you sacrifice career progression to stay home and look after the children? Importantly, the courts also consider with whom the children currently live.
Successfully obtained maintenance payments is a huge sigh of relief for clients, and is especially crucial for women who are responsible for the care of children.