The end of a marriage or separation is a difficult and emotional time for many women. For mothers there is often added stress and worry about who their children will live with, where they will live, what financial support will be available and how decisions about the ongoing care of their children will be made.
Many mothers are concerned they may not be entitled to finances and assets from the marriage, particularly if they have not worked and earned an income during the marriage in order to stay at home to take care of their children.
We understand the rights and entitlements of women and mothers in Western Australian. Our family lawyers in Perth and Joondalup will assist and support you in obtaining the best outcome for you and your children.
Divorce and Separation Advice for Women – What you need to know
Divorce and separation are actually two different issues in the eyes of Australian law.
Divorce can only occur after you have been separated for at least 12 months and you must apply to the Courts to be divorced. You cannot apply for a divorce prior to 12 months of separation.
You are legally free to remarry once your divorce is finalised, which is one month and one day after your divorce is granted.
Separation is when you or your partner informs the other that the marriage or relationship is over. You do not have to wait for a specified time to commence property settlement negotiations or make parenting and child support arrangements.
As soon as you make the decision to separate from your husband or partner, there are some important steps you should take:
- Seek advice early from an experienced family lawyer.
- Copy and gather all your important financial and other documents such as bank statements, insurance policies, mortgage documents, suppuration statements, wills, etc.
- Change your passwords, pin numbers and security questions on all your online personal accounts.
- Pay off or close all joint accounts, if possible, or limit redraw facilities and don’t add any money to join accounts.
- Don’t post negative comments or images about the relationship or your partner on social media or email.
- Keep track of your husband’s residential and/or work address, even if you no longer communicate regularly. This is important so the divorce application can be personally served as required by legislation. Not being able to serve the documents can cause significant delays in finalising your divorce.
Most importantly, try to keep your children’s routines as normal as possible. This will be a difficult period for them and they need stability. Try not to argue or bad mouth your partner in front of your children and always put your children first.
What are the child custody rights for mothers?
Over time as gender roles have changed the assumption that the mother will obtain full custody of children is no longer the case.
The Courts look at the “child’s best interests” when deciding who will have the the day to day care and control of the child. The “child’s best interests” may, however, change over time and require a change in his/her living arrangements.
If I divorce my husband what am I entitled to?
Your entitlements are based upon an assessment of the asset pool of the marriage or relationship and your contributions to it. Contributions consist of initial and post separation contributions as well as any financial and non-financial contributions during the relationship.
The assessment will result in a percentage split of assets which will be the outcome of your property settlement.
Am I entitled to child support?
Child Support, also known as child maintenance, is a regular monetary payment to the primary carer from the other parent for the financial benefit of the child.
To find out if you are entitled to child support, you will need to make an application to the Department of Human Services – Child Support Agency to have your assessment processed. When assessing for child support, the Child Support Agency will consider various factors including you and your partner’s income, the ages of your children and how many overnight arrangements your children have with each parent.
You can also look into a Binding Child Support Agreement which will provide regular payments to the primary carer as well as cover expenses such as educational fees, sporting registrations, medical expenses and any other type of expense that can be shared.
Am I entitled to Spousal Maintenance?
Spousal maintenance is different to child support. Child support benefits the children whereas spousal maintenance benefits the spouse.
Applications for spousal maintenance must be made through the Family Court.
Each case is different as it is not just based on your financial needs, it is also based upon our partner’s capacity to pay. There are many factors the Court needs to consider before making a spousal maintenance order.
If you are granted a spousal maintenance order, this can be as a periodic payment over a short period of time or a lump sum payment which can also be included in your property settlement.
Family Lawyers for Women
CS Legal have worked with many women and mothers and understand the challenges you face. We can accommodate your specific needs during this emotional journey.
Our family lawyers in Perth and Joondalup can assist and guide you to ensure your matter is settled efficiently and with compassion and sensitivity.