Top tips for successful maintenance claims
Unfortunately, separation often means that one partner is left without adequate funds to support themselves while the other partner has most of the resources. The Family Law can address this imbalance by making an Order for spouse maintenance to help meet living expenses until a property settlement can be reached. Streeterlaw’s Accredited Specialist Family Lawyer, Simone Green provides practical tips on how to maximise your success in a spouse maintenance claim.
1. Make a List
- List the regular expenses you are likely to incur over the course of a year, for example rent or mortgage, utilities, groceries and food, fuel, utilities, phone and internet, clothing, shoes, medical expenses, insurances and transport, sport, gifts and entertainment.
- Your bank and credit card statements, if you have access to them, are a good place to start to identify just what your personal regular expenses are and how much you have spent over a 12-month period in each category.
2. Make an Estimate
- Consider how those expenses may have changed since separation and adjust them accordingly.
- Make an average of the itemised expenses in each category over the relevant period and record the expenditure as WEEKLY and be consistent in reducing all expenses to weekly even if paid at other intervals.
- An Application to Court will require you to record weekly figures for your anticipated expenditure. For example, if your health insurance is say $400 per month, your weekly expenditure should be recorded as $92 per week (even if you actually pay it monthly).
- Work out what categories of those items are essential and what may be reduced as far as practical.
3. Make a Written Proposal
- Once you work out the shortfall of your income versus your needs, propose that your ex-partner either directly meet some of those expenses and/or provide you with a cash sum or access to a credit card or bank account for which to pay those regular expenses pending a more permanent financial arrangement.
- Make the proposal in writing so it is clearly communicated in as much detail as possible to help your ex-partner understand your need for support.
- If no agreement can be reached, seek mediation to assist in the resolution of the issue of your immediate need for spouse maintenance.
- Mediation also has the benefit of assisting negotiation towards final property settlement.
4. Make an Application
- If negotiation fails, you may make an urgent application to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia seeking spouse maintenance orders.
- You will need to file an Initiating Application seeking both final and interim orders along with an affidavit in support and other documents setting out your financial circumstances.
- We recommend that you seek the assistance of a Family Lawyer when preparing these documents to ensure that your evidence is correct and complete.