2 June 2021, By Niki Schomberg of Hartley Family Law
‘Will you sign a prenup?’
It is certainly an unromantic conversation to have with your partner.
But what if they say “no”?
Well, short of remaining single, the other strategy to protect your wealth is to keep your income, assets and liabilities entirely separate from your spouse during your relationship.
The case authorities say that just because you have been in a relationship with someone does not automatically entitle them to a property settlement; there must be more than simply being together.
Maintaining separate finances is by no means absolute protection from your partner making a claim for property settlement against you should you separate in the future. The highest protection the law affords is a financial agreement.
It is, however, a strategy that makes it more arguable when you separate that there should be no adjustment of your interests in property.
In practical terms, this means:
- Purchase property in your sole name and not in joint names with your partner.
- Do not have your partner make contributions, financial or non-financial, to the property in your name.
- Maintain separate bank accounts.
- Pay joint living expenses such as groceries, rent, holidays, etc, equally.
- Spend your income as you please without explanation or accountability to your partner.
- Be responsible for your own debts.
- Do not have credit cards where your partner is the secondary card holder.
- Do not execute mutual wills leaving property to your spouse or name them as a beneficiary on your super policies or life insurance policies.
In cases where the relationship is short (less than 5 years) and there are no children, it is generally more arguable to run a case that there be no adjustment of property interests.
In longer relationships with children, varied contributions and the intermingling of finances, the argument becomes harder, if not futile, and a financial agreement is crucial for asset protection.
If you have family wealth or an expectation of an inheritance, then good estate planning is another tool that may assist in protecting wealth from a partner.
If you need any assistance in relation to discussing and/or preparing a Prenuptial Agreement, please feel free to contact our Niki Schomberg or one of our other experienced family lawyers.