Nick asked his partner for a prenup. It nearly cost him his relationship

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jul9,2024
Nick* and his girlfriend had been living together for six years when he told her he wanted to create a financial agreement.
He had recently made a large “impulse” purchase without informing her, and wanted to determine who owned what.
But the request put their relationship in jeopardy.

“She began arguing with me about how it’s bullsh*t that we need a BFA — asking me if I love her, or don’t trust her,” Nick told The Feed.

Her friends even advised her to break up with Nick, who also began to have doubts.

“It made me nervous about a future together with her,” he said.

Financial agreements on the rise

A financial agreement, prenuptial agreement or “prenup”, officially known in Australia as a Binding Financial Agreement (BFA), is a legal contract between two parties that can be signed and updated at any stage in a relationship.
Family lawyer Luisa Gaetani said BFAs are on the rise, with younger parties showing more interest.

“We get a lot of younger adults who are entering relationships that might be brought up in a wealthy family, and the family is in their ear about protecting their assets or their future assets,” Gaetani said.

A poll that asks "Would you get a BFA if you were married", with 38 per cent saying definitely, 22 per cent saying absolutely not and 39 per cent saying "love is dead, marriage is a scam"

The Feed asked followers on Instagram if they’d request a BFA: 38 per cent of 209 votes said “Definitely”. Source: SBS

She said prenups can be signed before and after marriages, as well as in de-facto relationships. In order for a relationship to be considered de-facto, a pair must be living together for two years.

In Australia, there is no requirement that a BFA be fair or equitable.
Family Lawyer David Gale said families can become “concerned” about the wealth that can be lost in a break-up.

“If things turn pear-shaped, then there could be a lot of exposure, and a lot of family members are concerned about the wealth that they’ve built up from a lot of hard work and sacrifice being lost in a divorce,” Gale said.

He added that the uptake in BFAs also stems from the transition of wealth to newer generations and women having greater financial autonomy.
We asked The Feed followers on Instagram if they’d request a BFA: 38 per cent of 209 voters said “Definitely”.

Meanwhile, the ABC reported last month that enquiries for prenups at Australian Family Lawyers increased “from 153 in the first half of 2022 to 274 in the same period of 2023”.

What’s yours (isn’t) mine

Those who bring more assets to the partnership are often keen to protect them. This was the case with Graeme, who’s in his 50s and owns a house.
Graeme* and his partner were four months into their relationship when he suggested they sign a financial agreement.
He admits it was hardly a “romantic” conversation to bring up. It would require them to sign a contract specifying how their finances would be split if they separated.
“I think it’s fair to say there’s something a little bit unpleasant about it,” Graeme told The Feed.
“[But] I wanted to make sure I was protected a little bit.”

Graeme said the topic “changed the dynamic” of the relationship, with the pair opting to keep their finances separate while opening a joint expenses account.

Piles of coins next to a figurine of a bride and a groom.

According to ABS, there were 127,161 marriages registered in 2022 and 49,241 divorces. Source: Getty / amphotora

“My husband was — I would say — not excited about a BFA. At the same time, he kind of understood that if something was to happen I’d be left significantly financially worse.”

Graeme and his partner received independent legal advice (a requirement of a BFA), and decided that if they broke up, they would both “take from the relationship what they had put into it”.
“I don’t want to have a share in my husband’s finances. What our agreement does is say financially we’re separate,” Graeme said.

“It’s not romantic, but it kind of takes money off the table so it’s clear you’re marrying for love and not for money.”

Does a financial agreement hold up in court?

If a BFA was signed in accordance with the Family Law Act and both parties were happy, then they’re generally “difficult to overturn”, Gaetani said.

However, a BFA can be challenged if it was signed “under duress”, if there was an element of fraud, or if the BFA causes hardship to one of the parties, or a child.

“[If] one party is only entering into the agreement because otherwise the relationship would be at an end, that can warrant an agreement being set aside,” she added.

There are roughly 50,000 divorces per year in Australia and 120,000 marriages, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

When financial agreements change the relationship dynamic

Sian Khuman, psychologist at The Sydney Relationship and Family Practice, told The Feed that while BFA’s can set “clear and upfront understandings” of finances within relationships, they can also erode trust – especially if one party has more financial assets.

“BFA’s can impact the level of fairness, balance and power in a relationship,” Khuman said.

Nick said he offered to pay for independent legal advice for his partner to “assuage any concerns she had”.
But ultimately, the conversations revealed “fundamentally very different communication styles”, he added.

Thankfully, the couple worked through their differences, have stayed together and now have a child.

Small figurines of a man dressed in a suit, a woman in a wedding dress, two homes and a calculator

Some lawyers and psychologists say conversations revolving around finances can impact relationship dynamics. Source: Getty / Peter Dazeley

They’ve even updated their BFA with extra details that include real estate and provision for their offspring.

Nick said the problem was how he went about implementing the BFA, which he’s learned must be done delicately – and ideally in a relationship’s early stages.
“My biggest regret was not discussing the BFA with her and sitting down and drafting it with her in the first place.
“If I’d done that, it would’ve been a non-issue, and I don’t think she would have been so caught out of left field.”

*To protect their identity, interviewees’ names have been changed for this story.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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