Conversations about pre-nuptial agreements may seem negative, but they're important ones to have with your partner.
A pre-nuptial agreement is a legally Binding Financial Agreement between two people who are planning on getting married or living together in a de-facto relationship. It determines what happens to your property and assets if the relationship breaks down.
While it can seem a bit depressing or negative to be thinking about this at what is actually a very happy time in your relationship, it is actually a very sensible and important conversation to have, particularly if:
- you or your partner have children and assets from a previous relationship that you want to preserve for any children of this relationship
- one person is bringing substantially more property or assets into the relationship than the other
- you or your partner have a family business they want to protect.
How we help
If you are planning on entering into a pre-nuptial agreement, you and your partner both need independent legal advice for any agreement to be valid. You can't both use the same lawyer to prepare your agreement.
This is a legal requirement to ensure that your pre-nuptial agreement is just and fair and that the advantages and disadvantages of entering into the agreement are clear to both of you.
Usually, the person who is bringing the most assets to the relationship initiates the pre-nuptial agreement, drafted by their lawyer, while the other person has their lawyer review the draft agreement.
Our experienced family lawyers will help you prepare or negotiate a fair pre-nuptial agreement that protects your best interests and the interests of your current and any future children if your relationship breaks down.
A word of warning! Don't leave it until the last minute before the wedding or starting to live together to organise a pre-nuptial agreement. The law reports are full of cases where a party seeks to have the other sign an agreement weeks or even days before the event. These agreements have often been set aside by the Courts as being unfair or made under undue pressure ('sign - or the wedding is off!'). You need to start this process several months before the wedding or starting a de-facto relationship.
1. First meeting
The first step is to organise a meeting with you and one of our family law team. At this meeting we'll discuss:
- Financial situation: Your current financial situation (including assets like property, cash, superannuation, investments) and that of your partner.
- Children and the future: Your current children, your partner's children, your plans for having children together and other things that might change in the future
- Your intentions: What you would want to happen in the event your relationship breaks down?
We'll discuss what you are trying to achieve and how a pre-nuptial agreement can support this. This first meeting costs $450 (including GST) and takes approximately one hour.
2. Prepare a cost-estimate
Based on the information gathered at our first meeting, we will prepare a cost-estimate which clearly explains the anticipated costs of appointing us to draft or review and negotiate your pre-nuptial agreement on your behalf.
This cost-estimate is based on many years of experience undertaking this type of work. We pride ourselves on working as quickly and as efficiently as possible to keep your costs down. But we don't cut corners. Our focus is on getting the best result for you.
3. Negotiate the pre-nuptial agreement
Once you are happy to appoint us, we will then draft or review the pre-nuptial agreement and commence negotiations on your behalf (the first draft of the prenuptial agreement is almost never the final agreed version).
It's our job to ensure that you understand the implications of the final agreement, that it protects your best interests and those of your children and takes into account potential future changes in your circumstances.
4. Updating your agreement
Once your pre-nuptial agreement is finalised, it is also important to plan when it is updated. As a rule of thumb, we recommend you review your pre-nuptial agreements every five years or when there is a major change in circumstance (for example a new child). This helps ensure the agreement remains valid and is not overturned in the future.
5. Additional services
While you are planning your future, it is also a good time to:
- prepare or update your Will and establish Powers of Attorney to reflect your new circumstances
- plan your estate.
We are here to help you at every step of the way.
Our comprehensive, practical and supportive approach is why our clients choose us for this important work.