Help! I can’t pay the mortgage after my separation. What can I do?

Spousal maintenance is a payment you can receive from your former partner to help you get back on your feet after a separation if you are struggling to keep up with the bills.

thumbnail (1).jpg

Separation can be very hard if you are the spouse that earns less or no income, and your former spouses wipes their hands of any joint expenses.

So, is there anything you can do about that?

Of course these is, and let me tell you how it works.

The situation I am normally faced with goes along the lines of something like this:

“I am the stay at home parent and my former partner has just walked out on me and the kids. I am not working at the moment because the kids are young, but my former spouse says he won’t pay the mortgage for the house the children and I still live in. What do I do?”


“My former partner and I have a joint credit card and a few loans, but since I ended the relationship they refuse to pay for their share of the repayments, and I can’t afford it on my own. What do I do?”

You may be eligible for something called Spousal Maintenance.

Spousal maintenance is a payment you can receive from your former partner to help you get back on your feet after a separation if you are struggling to keep up with the bills.

To be eligible for spousal maintenance, you will need to show that your reasonable weekly expense are higher than your weekly income.

Reasonable weekly expenses include:

  • Mortgage repayments;

  • Rent repayments;

  • Car loan repayments;

  • Food expenses;

  • Medical expenses;

  • Costs for children; and

  • Other reasonably necessary expenses.

Once you calculate how much you have to pay for these things weekly, then you compare it to how much money you earn each week.

For example, say Mary has expenses of $600 per week, but she works part time and earns $300 per week.

If your expenses are higher than your income, then you can ask your former partner to pay for the amount you need to cover your expenses.

In Mary’s case, she would be able to ask for spousal maintenance of $300 from her former partner to help her meet her expenses.

The court doesn’t consider any Centrelink payments or child support payments you receive to count towards your income, so if your only income is from either of these places, then you will most likely be eligible for spousal maintenance.

Again in Mary’s case, the $100 she received from her former partner in child support and the $100 she receives from Centrelink per week don’t count towards her weekly income.

What’s next?

So you’re successful in getting spousal maintenance and you no longer have to worry about the bank taking back the house – phew – but what next?

These kinds of payments are usually only in place for a few months to a few years, to help you get back on your feet or keep you up to date with repayments until the property settlement can be sorted, so don’t count on these payments long term.

Use the time that you have the payments to think about what you would like your life to look like after the separation and start putting plans in place to get there while you don’t have that additional financial stress.

Where to from here? 

You are probably in one of three head spaces right now: 

  1. You liked the information, you found it interesting - but that’s all you wanted for now.

  2. This blog post resonated with you but you are just not ready yet to do anything and just want to look at more information about Family Law – I suggest you look at the other Free Information we have on our website which includes FAQ's as well as Helpful Links and Contacts that may come in handy.

  3. You are wanting more information about what you need to know after separation or you are ready to do something about your problem right now. If that is the case, then book an appointment with one of our Family Law solicitors by clicking here to make an online booking or why not start online!