The Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, recently announced proposed changes to the law regarding binding financial agreements - also commonly known as ‘pre-nuptial’ agreements.

The term ‘pre-nuptial’ is a misleading one, since a binding financial agreement (BFA) can actually be made before, during or after a marriage or de facto relationship.

The changes have been put forward in order to remove uncertainties around some of the requirements for entering, interpreting and enforcing BFAs.

These agreements usually cover financial settlements in the event of the breakdown of a marriage or de facto relationship. They can also specify the financial support of one spouse by the other, and any other incidental issues both parties wish to include. BFAs usually include all property and assets, as well as any debts and liabilities. BFAs cannot document parenting agreements.

Having a BFA can help prevent a financial or property dispute ending in court in the event a marriage or de facto relationship breaks down, avoiding what can be a costly, lengthy and stressful process.

If accepted, the proposed changes will see the Family Law Act amended to ensure specific provisions in the Act are more clearly understood, with a view to minimising the potential for disputes with regard to the enforceability of BFAs.

The proposed amendments have been presented in the form of a consultation paper, which can be found on the Attorney-General’s website Public comment is invited until 19th June, 2015.

At Donovan Oates Hannaford Lawyers, we’re closely monitoring the process, and look forward to the outcome. Please contact Hadyn Oriti on (02) 6583 0449 for further information with regard to BFAs.

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