The beginning of a new relationship heralds an enjoyable time in everyone’s life. The difficulty arises when there is a breakdown of the relationship. In the initial days of euphoria many people forget to safeguard themselves against the events which might occur as a result of separation, and ultimately this can make the process of separation much more complicated and stressful.

Legal Tips to Protect Yourself and Your Assets

In Australia when it comes to family law, the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (“FLA”) is the governing law for dealing with property related issues for married couples and couples involved in de facto relationships. The definition of a de facto relationship as per Section 4AA(5) of the FLA also includes same sex relationships.  In New South Wales (“NSW”) couples involved in a relationship, irrespective of their sex, can register their relationship in the NSW Relationships Register which came into effect on 1 July 2010.

Here are a few tips which you can keep in mind if you are entering into a new relationship:

  • Be Pragmatic – In regards to protecting your assets, whether you are getting married or entering into a de facto relationship (including a same sex relationship), be pragmatic and understand that you need to protect your assets in order to ensure your own financial security for the future. Do not become too emotional while making decisions relating to your property or while making financial decisions, regardless of how positive you are feeling about your new relationship;
  • Be Clear– Have a clear idea about the asset pool when entering into a new relationship i.e. the assets owned by you and your new partner, and also the value of any debts.
  • Maintain distance – It is always advisable that you keep matters relating to property and finances as separate as possible. Have separate bank accounts and avoid acquiring jointly held assets. In case you are acquiring interests in a jointly held property, be certain about your share and entitlement e.g. are you purchasing the property as joint tenants or tenants in common?
  • Maintain Records– It is always advisable to maintain separate financial records from your partner. Do not accept the financial liabilities of your partner as your own and avoid joint loans. If any major financial gifts are made to you by any third party, keep proper written records including receipts signed by you and your spouse that acknowledge the amount received, when and from whom.
  • Revisit your Will – Your Will should be constantly updated, and after separation make sure you review the executor and beneficiaries of your will, and make any necessary changes. You may also need to update your nominees for your insurance or superannuation entitlements in the event you separate from your partner.

How Can We Help You?

We understand that separation is a painful process and at the very onset of a relationship, nobody gives it a proper thought.

However, at Owen Hodge Lawyers, we make sure that our clients never lose track of their entitlements when the road ahead does not look so rosy. After all, prevention is always better than cure.

We have an experienced team of family law professionals who can assist you with all aspects of your family law matter no matter how complex your circumstances are. If you are on the verge of entering into a new relationship or you have any questions about how to best protect your financials interests, please feel free to contact our team at Owen Hodge Lawyers on 1800 770 780 or via email at ohl@owenhodge.com.au.