When Sara (name changed for privacy) first contacted Victoria Legal Aid she was living in a refuge with her three young children after experiencing ongoing family violence perpetrated by her former partner. Sara was not receiving Centrelink benefits and received little to no child support from her ex-partner. Sara was trying to find casual work however this was difficult to manage with three young children in her care.
Sara’s ex-partner had conceded that she needed financial assistance post-separation but claimed to not have the means to provide spousal maintenance payments or child support. Sara could not navigate the complex process of applying for spousal maintenance herself but knew that her ex-partner was receiving significant sums of money from family and friends living overseas and had money available to support Sara and their three children.
The court found that Sara’s ex-partner had access to significant amounts of money from overseas and had received in excess of $250,000 in recent years. The court decided that Sara’s ex-partner had the financial resources to pay spousal maintenance and ordered an initial lump sum payment and then a weekly payment of $500.
Without the assistance of a lawyer to navigate complex financial disclosure processes and represent her at court, Sara would have struggled immensely to provide for her and the three children’s basic needs such as housing, food and clothing. Sara would also never have been able to afford private legal representation. This highlightings the importance of legal assistance to women who are experiencing family violence.
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Reviewed 17 March 2022