Your rights after a separation

In the event of a separation, both parties are legally entitled to live in the family home. 

It does not matter whose name is on the ownership of the house. 

Only under an Occupancy or Ouster Order by a court can you be removed from a shared home.  

Australian law does not require you to be divorced before your property settlement can be finalised

A consent order, a Binding Financial Agreement, or a settlement imposed by the court are how property settlements can be formalised in Australia. 

What to do when your partner was the sole breadwinner?

The stay-at-home partner plays a significant role in maintaining and contributing to the child care, and the house as well as chores and other domestic suits. Often, the stay-at-home partner has sacrificed their own career progression in order to support the other in their career progression. Thus, they cannot be prevented from staking a claim in a house they have worked hard to maintain. 

In some situations, you can seek spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance is financial support paid by a party to a marriage to their husband or wife (or former husband or wife) in circumstances where they are unable to adequately support themselves.

Both ex-spouses have an equal legal responsibility to support and maintain each as far as they are able, based on their own income and expenses, following a separation. They are both equally responsible for maintaining themselves once separation has occurred. The amount of maintenance paid depends upon the income and expenses of the paying party in that they have no ability to pay if their expenses outweigh their income, or “their ability”. Likewise, the person seeking maintenance must not be able to maintain themselves in that their expenses must outweigh their income – “their need”. 

To receive Spousal Maintenance, you must show the court that you have a need for maintenance, and that your partner has the ability to pay maintenance to you on a regular basis or by way of a lump sum. 

If you are supporting children from your former relationship, you can also seek Child support. This is financial support paid by parents to help with the costs of a child aged under 18, and is  usually dealt with by way of a Child Support Assessment. 

How to manage your current situation

Communicate with your ex about your financial situation and see if they’re willing to negotiate the living situation or if you can stay in your shared property.  Remember, you have a right to stay in the family home. Without a court order, your ex cannot kick you out of a shared property.

Finding work

After the dust settles in a separation from a relationship where you were the stay at home partner or did not work, it’s best to begin looking at ways to generate income and regain your financial independence. 

The first step is to begin a job search. If you need help getting started, you can apply for Government Assistance in the form of Centrelink. Local government support services such as the local library or career services can help with job applications and putting together a resume and cover letter.  

Look for ways to build qualifications and upskill. There are a plethora of both in person and online short courses, including free courses that can be accessed through free library memberships that give you access to digital learning hubs or LinkedIn Courses. 

Spousal maintenance can also be sought in order to meet the expense of retraining in order to increase one’s income earning capacity. You can seek spousal maintenance in court. 

Moving forward financially

Moving forward after a separation can be difficult, especially when you’re figuring out the financial side of the equation. It’s best to set yourself for success by getting expert legal advice. Family Lawyers can help you understand your options, including interim property settlement and spousal maintenance. 

Financial counselling can also help in the wake of a separation. It can help you to set financial goals, make a budget and figure out regular expenses.  

To address your more immediate financial concerns, you can also consider downsizing in your search for your next place, or consider living with friends, roommates, or family temporarily.  


How do you separate when you can’t afford to?

Sometimes the only option is to live separated under the one roof until your ex either buys you out of the home or the home is sold

There are shelters available for men and women experiencing family violence who can’t afford to find their own accommodation.

How do I start over financially after property settlement?

Get advice from your accountant

Be careful with your money and any advice you receive about investing cash monies

Be cautious

Consider improving your qualifications in order to earn a higher income

What is my partner entitled to in a property settlement in Australia?

Each individual case is different and so what your partner is entitled to is hard to say as many factors are at play and property settlement is not a mathematical process nor is there any mathematical formula for working out what a person will receive at property settlement.