Same sex couples should protect their assets before getting married. The recent survey showed overwhelming support to change marriage laws to enable same sex couples to marry. It is expected the Parliament will enact legislation before the end of the year.
Binding Financial Agreements
The Family Law Act makes provision for Binding Financial Agreements (BFAs). These Agreements require each party to obtain legal advice and have a Lawyer sign a certificate confirming advice was given.
BFAs as they currently stand can deal with property issues arising before a relationship, during a relationship, and after a relationship. When dealing with property issues after a relationship BFAs are sometimes referred to as Termination Agreements.
The Family Law Act covers BFAs used for married and non-married couples. Many couples enter into a BFA in contemplation of marriage so that they can deal with the practical issues and then get on with planning a wedding.
Same Sex Marriage
With the expected introduction of marriage equality and same sex marriage there is every reason to think that BFAs will cover same sex marriages.
People thinking of getting married should seriously consider entering into a BFA. This would outline the assets and liabilities each person brought into the relationship. It would deal with how assets are to be split in the event of separation. It can deal with issues such as inheritances, property bought in individual names, and property bought in joint names.
BFAs are very useful in outlining how assets are to be dealt with in the event of separation. They can also outline a dispute resolution mechanism to avoid the financial and emotional costs of a protracted dispute.
Raising the Issue
While the topic of BFAs may not be incredibly romantic they are practical. It might be tricky to raise the issue with a partner but our clients tend to find that a full and frank discussion when everything is amicable is a lot better than trying to sort out issues when there is a dispute.
BFAs are particularly popular for people who are older, have experienced a serious relationship breakdown in the past, or simply wish to protect the assets they have accumulated over the years.
Where to now?
We will be watching with interest the changes to marriage legislation in coming weeks. If all goes as expected we should be able to help people with BFAs before the end of the year.
If you want to discuss this or any other matter please contact the office on 6162 3003. Imogen Elshami is the Special Counsel at the Firm who deals with Family Law matters.
We invite you to contact us to discuss Family Law matters – call 6162 3003.
This is general information only and should not be relied upon as legal advice.
Published 21 November 2017.