When a marriage ends, it’s always a difficult emotional time. The sheer disharmony and tension is enough to really rock you and cause you to find it hard to make decisions. It’s even harder when the split involves kids. Because the situation tends to be dire, either party might require money urgently in order to get you and the kids settled somewhere and just to go to the supermarket for everyday supplies and pay bills. The money to meet these every day living expenses for you is called spousal maintenance. Given the urgency of these situations, this financial situation may need to be addressed immediately and before anyone can even turn their mind to property settlement and divorce. However, you don’t have to go straight to court. You have other options like Mediation or Arbitration instead of the court process, which is slower and can take quite a bit of time to work through just to get some money to live.

What is Spousal Maintenance?

Spousal maintenance is a form of financial support that is provided by one spouse to the other in order for them to meet and maintain necessary expenses which can include the main parenting party to get accommodation, set up a new home and get the kids settled. This usually comes at the time of separation when one of the separating couple are unable to adequately support themselves, they can’t agree on anything, let alone money and financial support or short term financial arrangements might just be needed to put in place and clarify for everyone how and who will be paying what pending settlement of property settlement and settling into a new life.

Traditionally, these urgent maintenance arrangements are sought through the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court but this can be procedurally onerous and takes time and money to prove your current financial circumstances. These applications in Court don’t resolve themselves fast.

Mediation is a great way to get the immediate financial arrangements agreed between yourselves in a way that keeps you in control of the arrangements and encourages open communication and a mutually agreed upon short term financial arrangement. Urgent spousal maintenance can sometimes be the first dilemma sorted in Mediation. The other issues such as who gets what property and assets etc, can then be addressed with more confidence and less urgency. This will require both spouses to be honest, co-operative, trusting and future focused. This is not often the case immediately after separation has occurred.

The other option is to arbitrate the immediate and short term financial arrangements. This means that where you can’t agree on this small issue or the other spouse or their lawyer are perceived to be difficult, you can both nominate someone to decide for you. Provided you can both agree on the arbitrator, they will let you be involved in what needs to be decided by them and on what information, documentation and basis. They will hear you both out and then decide. Once they decide, it is binding and final – that’s it! Then that arrangement can stay in place for as long as appropriate for your family; a period of time, until settlement of property, until the sale of the home, until a new job is secured. You will be asked about this and your situation will be taken into account.

SHAW DR has Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners (FDRP’s), Accredited Mediators and Arbitrators in every state who are available with very little notice to deal with all things urgent. We are ready when you need us. No need to wait for the Court to be ready.

Information helpful in determining a positive and fair outcome

In Arbitration, it’s really crucial that all the information is offered up so the Arbitrator can work as hard as possible at finding a financial solution for both spouses. Here are some of the things, our Arbitrator may request.

* The age and health of both parties, and their children

* Work and income streams – bank statements, income statements, debt statements

* Outstanding debts and minimum repayments and due dates

* Immediate financial needs for you and for the children involved including extra curricular requirements, school fees etc and when they are due

* Any other factors that will have an impact on both parties abilities to be set up and live comfortably from here onwards.

The need for money for you, or spousal maintenance generally comes into play if one party is not working and hindered in caring for the children involved, or there is massive income disparity and in the situation their wellbeing becomes at risk.

Start out how you want to finish

In emotional times such as separation and divorce, there are generally quite a few factors that need to come into play. There may be multiple things to deal with in the coming months, but money and the immediate financial situation can sometimes be the most urgent of needs to address. If you can’t sort it with mediation, an arbitrator can assist you by resolving these immediate short term financial problems in one Arbitrator hearing that can be arranged immediately. When families break down it’s important to keep that communication open, with resolution always at the forefront of our minds. Expect that money and financial arrangements will need to be put in place and clarified for everyone’s sake.

Get in touch with SHAW DR’s Family Dispute Resolution or Arbitration team and let’s help you get on with the long term settlement of all issues!

Let’s Resolve!