We get it! It’s an exciting time! The last thing you want to think about is property division when de facto relationships break down. You have discussed money and financial decision making with your partner. Now you both want to get on with building a life together & planning a shared future together. At this point it is important to have a basic understanding of de facto relationship laws and be open with your partner about your level of commitment to a shared future. Having full & frank discussions about things like personal debt, what assets you both have & your earning capacity both now & in the future is important. These discussions will help create a sense of unity and commitment to a shared future. It will also enable you to identify if you need to put in place any asset protection strategies.
Having unity as a couple and a commitment to a shared future will help you work together to achieve mutually beneficial goals. Things just work better when both parties to the relationship are on the same page about money & life together.
To achieve a shared sense of direction you need to talk openly with your partner and negotiate decisions about the future together. Quite often reaching agreement isn’t easy and it can be a difficult finding the middle ground between you when discussing things like property division when de facto relationships break down & asset protection strategies during the early stages of the relationship.
Being aware of what matters most to your partner will help these conversations take shape. For example, let’s say your partner earns significantly more income than you & already has a number of properties in his name. Your takeout from any discussions you may have with your partner about a shared future might be that; asset protection strategies matter to your partner in the early stages of the relationship. By gaining such an insight you are able to talk with your partner about the things that are likely to matter most to them such as property division when a de facto relationship breaks down or potentially having a property settlement agreement prepared in advance to give both of you peace of mind.
Following are a few things that may help you to engage with your partner & start the conversation in an open & inclusive manner.
- Start by asking your partner how thy have managed money & finances in previous relationships. Identify what worked & what didn’t. Discuss with your partner how you would like to manage this aspect of your relationship going forward.
- Who brings the majority of the assets & income to the relationship? If it is your partner then broadly discuss de facto relationship laws & identify asset protection strategies you could agree be put in place to offer your partner some form of asset protection. Be the one to raise this as it will reassure your partner that you are “in it for the right reasons”.
- If you bring the majority of the wealth to your relationship then talk openly with your partner about your views on property division when de facto relationships break down. Many couples opt out of de facto relationship laws by entering into a property settlement agreement or binding financial agreement.
- Take your time & discuss these things over a period of time in an open & honest manner with your partner.
- If you intend to intermingle your finances & money discuss & agree things like account access, estate planning, who your beneficiaries will be on any life insurance & on your Wills.
- Plan & negotiate a household budget. This will help you identify spending habits & to save money.
- You both should make a Will & keep it up to date.
- If you earn less income than your partner, you may feel you don’t have a right to make decisions about where the money goes. Talk to your partner about how you feel. You should work in partnership, especially when it comes to money.
If you are not sure about the longevity of your relationship or your partners ability to contribute financially to your relationship then don’t do any of the things we are suggesting above. Allow your relationship time to develop. No one should feel they are under pressure to commit either emotionally or financially.
I met my partner a five years ago. He is wealthy in his own right. He had come out of a relationship when we met & he was extremely nervous about anything to do with money & a relationship as he had to pay his previous partner a large settlement when they broke up as they had negotiated a property settlement agreement when they were in love & thought they would never break up!
Once I knew he was the one for me I sat with him & told him how I felt. I also told him that I was happy to have a property settlement agreement drawn up between us & that if we broke up I would be happy to walk away with nothing more than I entered the relationship with. This is a pretty big thing to say as de facto relationship laws essentially give couples that live together the same rights as those that are married.
I think by me saying this & being open about it with him really helped him overcome his fears that I would take his money. We now have a beautiful little girl together, we live together in a house we both own & we are engaged! Sometimes being upfront & open really helps.
Remember, the information contained on the site does not constitute legal advice. If you think you need legal advice you should contact an Accredited Family Law Specialist.
We have a suite of resources on the site that can help you build your knowledge about property division when de facto relationships break down & asset protection strategies. Scroll through the resources below or click through to the resources tab and filter based on your areas of interest. If you want to access our resources you can join the site as a member or simply purchase the individual resources you require.