Under family law, there is a wide range of financial agreements on offer, in many circumstances that may be useful to you, for example:
- Before you enter a de facto relationship
- Before you enter marriage (often called a ‘prenup’, meaning ‘pre-nuptial’)
- During a de facto relationship, or during marriage
- After relationship breakdown
These Agreements operate as an alternative to legal action, dealing with how property or parts of the property will be adjusted between parties to the Agreement in the event of relationship breakdown. The agreement can assist to resolve potential conflict, by setting out in advance how the parties intend to adjust their assets if their relationship breaks down in the future.
The Agreements are intended to be binding between the parties, and end all other legal rights over the matters dealt with in the Agreement. There are key requirements for the agreement to have this final and binding effect – it must be in writing, signed by both parties and dated, and must be accompanied by a certificate from each party’s solicitor stating that they have had legal advice as to the advantages and disadvantages, and the legal effect, of entering the Agreement.
This kind of agreement can deal with all or any aspect of their financial relationship in the event of relationship breakdown, including financial support, ‘quarantining’ of a particular asset from future claims, or dealing with all assets acquired or owned by either party separately, or the parties jointly.
This kind of Agreement is increasingly popular with ‘later in life’ re-partnering or blended families, to help couples make their financial arrangements clear, and to clarify how they see their joint assets and their separate assets being preserved for their future, or for other people’s future benefit. For example – a couple may agree that the home owned by each of them, or their superannuation benefits, will remain their own if their relationship breaks down.
If properly made and thought out, this can give parties and their respective families a greater sense of security and openness about their financial commitments and obligations, to each other and to other people they care about.