Stay-at-Home Parent or Breadwinner – Who Contributes More in Family Law?

Having to separate with your long-term partner after your lives have become so intertwined over the years is never an easy thing to deal with. Having built a family where children are involved; however, brings with it a whole new set of complexities. As all parents know, the roles and responsibilities that come with parenting are both incredibly varied and absolutely critical in determining how well your children grow up. Ideally, they can feel supported enough to grow into happy and healthy adults. But what if there’s only one parent who is employed while the other stays at home to look after the children? Without a monetary value, how can something be considered an asset in the court of law and what does this mean for how the finances are split?

Well, the outcome of how to split assets does differ from case to case; however, it is based on direct and indirect financial AND non-financial contributions made by the couple.

This means that the Courts will take into account your contributions towards the family as a homemaker, just as much as it does your income. 

Here’s an example of some of the things considered when dividing assets:

  • Direct financial contributions such as receiving an inheritance
  • Indirect financial contributions such as DIY renovations on your home to increase property value
  • Relationship length (assets may be split differently for shorter and longer relationships)
  • Children from the relationship and who they’ll reside with
  • Future needs such as health, your ability to earn an income and superannuation

Generally, the value placed on the homemaker is considered of equal importance to the breadwinner’s financial contributions. The Courts recognise that both contributions are substantial and significant, thus one is no more important than the other. Luckily, Australia prides itself on its Family Law system where the ‘stay-at-home parent penalty’ has no place in the vast majority of divorce settlement cases.

Spousal and Child Maintenance

The Courts may introduce spousal and/or child maintenance to ensure that the day-to-day lives of everyone involved are taken care of. In this case, the main breadwinner may need to contribute payments to the stay-at-home parent and children to alleviate any income issues they may face post-divorce.

In terms of financial support for the children, there are two forms that are expected of both parents: child support or maintenance support. Child support relates to the financial support of a child under 18 years of age, while child maintenance relates to the educational and medical expenses of a child over 18 years of age.

Spousal maintenance on the other hand, is required to be paid to an ex-partner if they cannot afford daily living expenses on their own accord and the breadwinner can help to meet those expenses.

In any case, the reality of a divorce proceeding can be extremely overwhelming – both legally and emotionally, and when children are involved the stakes are at a maximum high. So, to ensure you get the best possible outcome for the wellbeing of every family member, it’s worth hiring a professional family lawyer who’ll have your back through all the difficulties.

Because at Taylor & Scott, we care for you.