Depending on your family’s financial circumstances, this can be either straightforward or very complicated. How you deal with your incomes and pay for the family expenses depends on how the parties have been utilising their money and income prior to separation.
For the purpose of this article, we are delving into what to do with your income and cash at hand initially, straight after separation, but before you reach a final property settlement.
How To Deal With Income During Separation:
If you are going through a divorce or separation and you are a homemaker without your own income or only a part-time income, it can be very difficult to navigate this period particularly if your ex-partner decides to cut you off financially. And, yes, this can happen. If you find yourself in this circumstance during your separation, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. In family law, there may be provisions that can offer assistance and, in particular, an application for Spousal Maintenance.
What should happen during separation, if you are fairly amicable and reasonable individuals, is that the main income earner should continue to pay the bills in the home as has been done in the past. In family law, it is expected that these activities should continue as they have been dealt with during the relationship until you reach a final property settlement.
The Court in family law can help with these scenarios; however, determining whether it is worthwhile making an application to the Federal Circuit Court for what is known as Spousal Maintenance depends on your family income and expenses.
If you find yourself without an income because your ex-partner has financially cut you off from the family income during separation, there are a few things that you should do.
- Go to Centrelink to see where you stand with them; they may be able to provide you with some financial assistance.
- Make an appointment with a family lawyer to seek legal advice about your family law matter as a whole. If you have no way of paying legal fees, seek out a family lawyer who will provide free initial advice. Many family lawyers offer this service, including our firm Collective Family Law.
- If you have children, get in touch with the Child Support Agency (CSA) and get the ball rolling with them to see what you and your children may be entitled to.
What Happens To Your Income During Separation?
What about your income during separation? Our clients often ask questions regarding their own income, such as, are they allowed to put their own income into their own account instead of a joint account?
The answer to this is yes, you can. During separation and divorce, you are entitled to direct your income to a new account if you want to do this. It is advised that both parties should continue to pay the bills as per usual and to continue the financial arrangements you had prior to separation if at all possible.
What happens to Joint accounts when separating?
If you have any joint accounts, then you both have the right to access those accounts. If there are large amounts of funds in joint accounts, it is a great idea to protect the funds by either freezing the accounts or changing the account so that both parties need to sign an authority to access the money. This is a protective measure during separation and divorce so that the funds are available to both parties for distribution as part of your property settlement.
If you don’t do this, then there is nothing stopping either of you from withdrawing monies, which can lead to wastage of your capital and, therefore, there being less to distribute.
If you distribute the funds before a final settlement, this can also lead to issues as one party may use their funds for everyday living expenses. In contrast, the other party saves their distribution, causing an imbalance before a final settlement. This is something to be aware of as you go through your separation and divorce.
What Happens To Mortgage Accounts When Separating?
The same as what happens to joint accounts applies to joint mortgage accounts. If you have a redraw facility on your mortgage account, it is a very good idea to freeze it, so your funds are preserved during your family law proceedings.
Some people, upon separating, are both respectful as to how they will deal with funds and can happily continue with their joint accounts as they were, while others become insecure and selfish, which can lead to their draining funds from joint accounts, which leads to wastage and stress.
If you are not sure where you stand financially during your divorce and separation, seeking independent legal advice from a family law solicitor is a great idea. At Collective Family Law, we offer all of our clients a free initial appointment that is up to one hour long. This appointment can be via Zoom or in person at either our Brisbane or Gold Coast family law office.
To take advantage of this, please call 1300 225 393