It is common for one party in a relationship to have all the family assets in their sole name and to control the family finances.  Often upon separation, they will pay their spouse an amount of spousal maintenance or provide them with access to a credit card or a joint bank account fed with limited funds to meet day-to-day living expenses. The intention is to provide support to a party who cannot meet their own reasonable needs due to the existence of any one of four circumstances and is generally considered to be a temporary arrangement. After a reasonable amount of time, it is thought that both parties should be responsible for maintaining themselves financially without any reliance on their ex-partner.  

When relationship property negotiations begin, some parties will attempt to cut off their spouse’s access to money, the effect of which is that the dependent spouse may not have funds to meet living expenses or legal fees. Most lawyers will advise clients who have a financially-dependant spouse that they have an obligation to make financial provision for them but this advice is not always immediately accepted. Where a party refuses to make sufficient financial provision for a financially-dependent spouse or the dependent spouse asks for an unreasonable sum, the matter is likely to come before the court. For more details please refer to our website.

We are regularly faced with the issue of spousal maintenance. We will provide expert advice on what is a reasonable amount to expect to receive or to pay and for how long.  

We will also guide you through the process, explaining your rights and the possible options where agreement cannot be reached.  

The normal rule in family proceedings is that each party bears their own costs. There is a risk that if you lose such an application to a level worse than you have openly offered or had offered to you, not only will you have to pay your own legal costs but also some or all of the other party’s costs. Conversely, if you are successful you may have your costs paid. It is therefore, essential that you obtain legal advice on your position at an early stage.

A pre-separation consultation with a lawyer can be especially helpful.  

If you have questions about family finances, please contact our office by email or phone (09) 309 4647.  We’d be happy to answer them for you.  


“The information posted on this website is prepared for a general audience, without investigation into the facts of any particular case. This information is no substitute for legal advice and does not create a lawyer-client relationship; you are advised to consult with a lawyer on any legal issue.”