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Family law

During a Relationship

At the commencement of a relationship, one or both parties may want to protect the assets that they are introducing. If you have inherited property or brought property into a relationship, you may want to protect it from your spouse or partner in the event of separation or protect it for the benefit of your own children. There are different ways of protecting assets which a party considers to be their separate property.

Contracting Out Agreements (commonly referred to as "pre-nuptials")

While the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 allows parties to contract out of the provisions of the Act, care must be taken when drafting a Contracting Out Agreement.  It is a fact of life that your relationship will end, either through separation or death.  It is often appropriate that a Contracting Out Agreement is put in place to address not only how property is to be divided on separation, but also in the event of death of a party.  Contracting Out Agreements are tailored to fit your individual circumstances.  We have significant experience in advising clients as to the appropriate way to contract out of the Act. 

Property Sharing Agreements

When purchasing a property together you may wish to enter into a Property Sharing Agreement to address your contributions, how outgoings are to be paid and who will be responsible for maintenance and repairs. 

For further information, refer to Buying or Selling - Property Sharing

However, in the event that your relationship becomes a qualifying relationship as per the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 and the property subject to the agreement is the family home or would be classified as relationship property, any Property Sharing Agreement should form part of a Contracting Out Agreement and fulfil the requirements of a Contracting Out Agreement in order to be binding. 


Specialist and tailored legal advice should be obtained when considering a Family Trust while you are in a relationship.  Different relationships and family situations give rise to different needs.

For further information, refer to Estate and Succession Planning

Other ways of protecting separate property

In the event an inheritance is received during a relationship, it is advisable to seek specialist advice as to how to protect this.  A Family Trust is sometimes advisable, whereas at other times a Contracting Out Agreement may be more suitable.  We will advise you on the most appropriate way to protect such property.


For further information on matters to consider when entering a new relationship, refer to Estate and Succession Planning and Wills