When you are starting out in a new relationship you may find it hard to consider what may happen if you were to separate from your loved one in future. All relationships must end – either by a separation, or by the passing of a loved one. Planning for the future involves thinking carefully about both of these scenarios.
At Family Law Matters, we specialise in providing advice to you about planning for the future in the event of a separation.
If you are entering a new relationship and you are bringing assets (no matter how small compared to your new partner), it’s comforting to know there is a way that you can ensure you are entitled to keep what is yours. If you have children of prior relationships, this will no doubt be a high priority for you – protecting your assets from any claims so that your children can rightfully benefit from the assets you have worked hard to build.
A “Binding Financial Agreement” (or more colloquially known as a “pre-nup”) is the right tool for most couples entering a new relationship. The Financial Agreement may be implemented before you start living together and at any time during your relationship. They are available for de facto couples and those contemplating marriage. If you are already married, there are still opportunities to have a Financial Agreement to provide security. This level of flexibility means that at any stage of your relationship, you can feel assured that we can help you implement some asset protection strategies.
If there is no Financial Agreement in place, you are at the mercy of the Family Law Act – and the very discretionary property adjustment regime, as well as the highly controversial rights to spousal maintenance. If you would like information about how the laws would be applied to adjust property interests, please click here.
By entering a Financial Agreement, you and your partner effectively put aside the Family Law Act, and you have the chance to write your own rules about what will happen if your relationship ends.
The types of rules that can be put in place with a Financial Agreement can include:
- A full summary of your assets at the time you enter the Agreement, to avoid disputes about the value of the assets you each bring;
- A “quarantine” of your assets from any claims, including property, superannuation and future inheritances;
- How you will acquire assets together in future;
- How you will pay for accommodation expenses, particularly if you are living in a property owned solely by you (or your partner);
- What happens to the jointly owned assets in the event of a separation; and
- Waiving the statutory rights to spousal maintenance in the event of a separation.
Our own practice experience is that all clients who have entered into a Financial Agreement have never needed to contact us to implement the agreement after separation – we like to think this is because we help you engage in the “uncomfortable conversation” with your loved one about planning for the future. By the end of the process you both feel comfort knowing where each of you stand financially – expectations are discussed, managed and a way forward is agreed. You are both free to continue doing what you should do – growing your relationship together.
Entering a Financial Agreement is a simple way to avoid your hard earned assets being open to a claim.
If you would like to protect your assets for the future, please call Family Law Matters on 02 9523 3007 or complete the contact form to arrange an initial consultation to discuss your Financial Agreement / Pre-Nup with one of our Family Law Solicitors.