Case Study: Sparing A Client From Financial Hardship After A Breakup

Financial Hardship After A Breakup

Sometimes, you can’t save a marriage, but you can take steps to ensure your future is protected following the irretrievable breakdown of a relationship.

Speaking with a lawyer can help you put your situation in perspective – and fight for what is fair and equitable – in the hope of achieving a favourable outcome.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies has found divorce had, on average, negative effects on the equivalised household incomes of men and women, especially those over 55.

According to a Real Cost Of Separation report, it is estimated that, every year, it’s costing us $3.7 billion in legal expenses and $45 million in divorce application fees alone.

Top five financial considerations people wish they had made prior to their split

• Consider having some independent savings for emergencies (59.5%)

• Consider how financially dependent you are on your partner (50.3%)

• Consider what will happen to the house, car, furniture and other property (40.5%)

• Consider who will pay outstanding bills or debts (37.1%)

• Consider what will happen to any joint accounts (34.4%)

Top five financial actions taken after a split

• Removed ex-partner from legal documents (43.7%)

• Separated joint accounts or mortgage (42.6%)

• Created a new lifestyle budget (40.3%)

• Modified beneficiaries (33.1%)

• Made sure you had your own superannuation (31.5%)

Source: Real Cost Of Separation (PDF)

At Ryan & Seton Lawyers, we encourage all clients to reach an agreement without having to go to court, which can often lead to costly delays and causes further stress and animosity.

A recent case of ours highlights how quickly a situation can go from bad to worse for married couples who are financially bound to each other. 

It’s important to act quickly and seek legal advice as soon as possible. If you need a lawyer, contact us today.

Client Story

Following the breakdown of her marriage, our client had left the family home. 

Upon doing so, her former husband terminated her employment within the family business and she was left unable to pay her living expenses or legal costs.

Following the filing of an application for spousal maintenance and costs orders, the husband commenced “medical leave” from the business and disposed of large sums of money so that he could assert he did not have any capacity to pay the orders sought by our client. 

The husband also refused to respond to various correspondence or engage meaningfully in the matter.

The matter came before the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia for interim hearing of our client’s application.

The Issues To Consider

1. Whether the wife’s claimed living expenses were excessive in the circumstances, as alleged by the husband.

2. Whether the husband had the capacity to pay the proposed spousal maintenance and costs orders, notwithstanding his apparent inability to do so on paper.

What We Did To Help Our Client

Prior to the interim hearing, we sought extensive financial disclosure and issued relevant subpoenas. 

We were able to trawl through volumes of documents provided at the very last minute – presumably in an attempt to overwhelm us – and find the various transactions and financial records that supported what we asserted to be the husband’s “true” financial position and capacity.

At the interim hearing, Ryan and Seton Lawyers’ solicitor director and accredited specialist Michael Seton advocated our client’s case, taking the judge step-by-step through the relevant financial documents supporting our client’s case. 

Michael also took the judge to the various documents and information the husband had failed to provide and invited the court to make an adverse finding – that is, a finding that the husband had failed to disclose that information because it would be damaging to his case – in that regard.


The judge delivered his interim judgment in favour of our client, ordering that the husband pay a significant weekly sum to the wife by way of spousal maintenance, and also pay a dollar-for-dollar costs order so that for every dollar he pays towards his own legal costs he must also contribute a dollar to the wife’s legal costs.

Our client was thrilled with this result.

With this additional financial burden now placed on the husband, he suddenly engaged in the proceedings in a positive way for the first time and negotiations were able to rapidly progress to settle the matter on a final basis. 

The prompt conclusion of the proceedings would likely not have been possible without the interim “win”.

If you have a concern about a family law matter, we have specialists who can help you right now, so please get in touch with our expert Central Coast lawyers who can offer you sound legal advice and a fresh approach. Contact us today to make an appointment.



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