When a man and a woman start cohabitation, they are obliged to respect, financially support, and help each other. Also, everything that the spouses acquire for the duration of the union is their joint property, unless the partners have agreed otherwise by marriage or prenuptial agreement.
When it comes to divorce or separation, the property is divided in accordance with the several ways prescribed by the law. You could read more thoroughly about the division of the property in our other blog post on divorce in Serbia.
Nevertheless, the division of property is not always the only material aspect of divorce. That is, when it comes to separation, i.e., divorce, the question is whether the ex-spouse is entitled to the other ex-spousal support.
The conditions that must be met for the court to oblige one of the ex-spouses for spousal support, are as follows:
- the spouse doesn’t have enough means to pay the spousal support and
- the spouse is unfit for work or unemployed.
The fulfillment of these conditions must be cumulative. What does that mean?
For instance, a spouse may be incapable of work or unemployed, while, on the other hand, holds significant life savings, has property income, company shares that generate capital or owns a property of significant value, etc.
In such a case, even though the person is incapable of work or unemployed, there is no legal ground to receive spousal support, since the person has other means to support themselves, i.e., their livelihood is not endangered.
However, if the spouse is incapable of work or unemployed, and does not have enough means to support themselves, there is a legal ground for spousal support.
However, being unemployed on purpose, and without any external reason cannot be the ground to live at the expense of your ex-spouse. Therefore, when a person does not show interest to find employment, or decides to terminate the employment relationship, the court will not consider their unemployment status as a legal ground and sufficient condition to oblige the ex-spouse to provide spousal support.
However, even in those situations when a spouse does not have enough means to provide financial support, and is unfit for work or unemployed, the Law prescribes one corrective in order to achieve the principle of fairness. The Law specifies that the spouse who requests spousal support (even though the conditions are cumulatively met) shall not be entitled to financial support if it would represent manifest injustice for the other spouse.