Lynn Armstrong, Senior Associate and Accredited Family Law Specialist
It is a strange thing for a family lawyer to talk about, but this work is not just about the end of relationships. We also have a great deal to offer to people at the start of relationships, as you will see.
With love all around us and people becoming committed, cohabitating and marrying it is important to remember amongst the excitement and enjoyment, to protect yourself and your financial position.
Australian law does enable people to enter into both Cohabitation Agreements (when living together or considering that step) or Separation Agreements (similar to a Pre-nuptial Agreement – but not requiring the wedding), which provide for the way property, funds and debts will be separated if the unthinkable occurs.
Once a document is prepared and both parties have sought the required independent legal advice, the Agreement can then be put away. I have often heard back from clients that the Agreement has enabled them to not be concerned about the financial impact of aspects of a relationship, such as buying a home, and enable the parties to just enjoy the step. This is the positive aspect of such Agreements.
We often see that people who have property, or superannuation, find the making of the Agreement more important than those that don’t. But remember, debt is often a large problem at the end of a relationship – Who is going to pay for what? Who is liable for each debt?
Planning for the future of the parenting of the children can be difficult, although the financial situation for the parent with the care of the children can be planned for. This can enable the parents to not have to worry about the financial side, and concentrate on the needs of the children at a very difficult time.
Effectively if the relationship doesn’t falter (which we hope it doesn’t), there is no need to rely on the Agreement, which becomes just a background safeguard. The Agreement only comes into effect if the parties have a separation declaration completed appropriately, after separation.
In respect of all family law matters everyone is encouraged to speak to a qualified family law solicitor so you can be advised as to how best plan for your future security, during each step of a relationship.