Separations are a messy business. It is painful and traumatic. Add to that the worry for the future and what it will hold. Perhaps the most uncertain in a relationship is the homemaker or the partner who stays at home to care for the children and the house. Without a job or an income, the homemaker in a de facto relationship is hit the hardest.
This is where the law comes in. The Family Law Act, specifically Section 90SE, provides protection to a homemaker in a de facto relationships by allowing applications for the issuance of a spousal maintenance order by the court.
A spouse maintenance is a financial support given to a former partner in a de facto relationship who cannot adequately support himself/herself. In an application for spouse maintenance, the first thing that needs to be proven is the existence of a de facto relationship. Section 4AA of the Family Law Act 1975 defines a de facto relationship as:
Once the existence of a de facto relationship has been established, the homemaker must set out to prove that he/she is qualified and entitled to a spouse maintenance. The person applying for spousal support must remember that an application will not be granted automatically by the court. The court, based on the Family Law Act Section 90SB, will only issue an order if it is satisfied that at least one of the following conditions exists:
When determining the extent of the spousal maintenance these are some of the factors that will be considered of both parties:
In all instances, it would be best to consider hiring a lawyer who can make sure that all requirements and that your best interests are communicated to the court.