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Post Marriage Agreement in Australia

Post-marriage agreements (also known as post-nuptial agreements) are gaining traction as a valuable tool for couples seeking clarity and security in their financial futures. While traditionally, pre-nuptial agreements were the primary mechanism for addressing financial matters before marriage, post-marriage agreements offer a similar framework after the “I do’s” have been said. At Law By Dan, we understand the complexities of family law and are well-positioned to guide law firms and their clients through the process of drafting and navigating post-marriage agreements.

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What is a Post-Marriage Agreement?

A post-marriage agreement, as defined under Australian family law, is a legally binding contract entered into by a married couple after their wedding. Unlike a pre-nuptial agreement, which is signed before marriage, a post-marriage agreement allows couples to address their financial situation and future planning considerations after they have already tied the knot. To be considered valid, the agreement must be in writing, signed by both parties, and witnessed by independent legal representatives.

Key Elements of a Post-Marriage Agreement

A well-drafted post-marriage agreement acts as a financial blueprint, guiding couples through the division of assets and liabilities in the event of separation or divorce. Here’s a closer look at the key elements typically included:

  • Parties Involved: This section clearly identifies the spouses entering into the agreement. It should include full legal names and any relevant details to avoid confusion, particularly if there have been name changes throughout the marriage.

  • Financial Disclosure: Full and frank disclosure of each spouse’s financial situation is paramount. This includes a detailed inventory of:

    • Assets: This encompasses all property owned by each spouse, both individually and jointly. This could include real estate (including details like ownership percentages), vehicles, investment accounts, valuable collectibles, and business interests.
    • Liabilities: A comprehensive list of all debts owed by each spouse, including mortgages, personal loans, credit card balances, and outstanding tax liabilities, should be outlined.
    • Income Sources: This section details each spouse’s current income sources, including salaries, wages, investment income, and any other forms of regular earnings.

Transparency in financial disclosure is crucial for ensuring the agreement is fair, balanced, and enforceable in a court of law.

  • Division of Assets and Liabilities: This is the heart of the agreement, outlining how existing and future assets, debts, and financial resources will be divided or treated in the event of separation. Here’s a breakdown of some key considerations:

    • Marital vs. Separate Property: The agreement should distinguish between assets acquired during the marriage (considered marital property) and those brought into the marriage by each spouse (considered separate property). This distinction can significantly impact how assets are divided.
    • Division of Assets: The agreement outlines how marital assets will be divided. This can be a predetermined percentage split (e.g., 50/50), a specific allocation of particular assets to each spouse, or a combination of both approaches.
    • Treatment of Liabilities: The agreement specifies how existing and future debts will be addressed. This could involve each spouse taking responsibility for their own pre-marital debts, or it could outline a plan for proportional sharing of marital debts based on income or other factors.
    • Inheritance Rights: The agreement can address how potential future inheritances will be treated. Will they be considered separate property of the inheriting spouse, or will there be provisions for sharing a portion with the other spouse?
  • Spousal Maintenance: This section may address provisions for spousal maintenance, particularly if one spouse has a significantly lower earning capacity or has given up career opportunities to support the other spouse’s career or childcare responsibilities. The agreement can outline factors for determining the amount and duration of spousal maintenance payments.

  • Child Support: If the couple has children, the agreement can clarify arrangements for child support obligations, ensuring the well-being of the children is prioritized. While child support guidelines set out by the Child Support Agency (CSA) typically apply, the agreement can address additional considerations specific to the couple’s circumstances.

  • Superannuation: Superannuation is a significant financial asset in Australia. The agreement can specify how these retirement savings will be treated, with the potential for splitting contributions made during the marriage. This can be particularly relevant for long marriages where one spouse may have made significant superannuation contributions while the other spouse stayed home to raise children.

  • Incidental Matters: The agreement can encompass other relevant matters important to the couple, such as:

    • Business Interests: If either spouse owns or has a stake in a business, the agreement can outline provisions for valuing the business and determining its division or treatment in the event of separation.
    • Debt Incurred After Separation: The agreement can specify how debts incurred by each spouse after separation will be handled.
    • Dispute Resolution: The agreement can establish a process for resolving any disagreements arising from the interpretation or implementation of the agreement. This could involve mediation or arbitration to avoid costly litigation.

By incorporating these key elements and tailoring them to their specific circumstances, couples can create a comprehensive post-marriage agreement that fosters clarity, security, and fairness in the event of separation or divorce.

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Benefits of Post-Marriage Agreements

Post-marriage agreements offer a multitude of benefits for couples committed to building a strong financial future together:

Asset Protection
These agreements can safeguard the pre-marital assets and financial interests of each spouse, particularly relevant for individuals entering a marriage with significant existing wealth or coming from blended families. By clearly delineating which assets are considered separate property and which are considered marital property, post-marriage agreements can help protect the inheritance rights, business interests, or substantial investments that one or both spouses may have brought into the marriage. This can provide peace of mind and ensure that each spouse’s hard-earned wealth is protected in the event of a relationship breakdown.

Certainty and Control
A post-marriage agreement fosters a sense of certainty and control over financial matters. By outlining expectations and potential future scenarios, couples can approach their financial planning with greater clarity. The agreement serves as a roadmap, specifying how assets and liabilities will be divided, whether spousal maintenance will be provided, and how other financial obligations, such as child support, will be handled. This level of transparency and predetermined structure can alleviate potential conflicts and misunderstandings, allowing couples to focus on building their lives together with a shared understanding of their financial responsibilities.

Avoid Costly Litigation
In the unfortunate event of a separation or divorce, a well-drafted post-marriage agreement can significantly reduce the need for lengthy and expensive court battles. Without a clear agreement in place, the division of assets and liabilities can become a contentious and protracted process, often requiring extensive legal representation and court proceedings. However, with a post-marriage agreement, the agreement provides a pre-determined framework for dividing assets and liabilities, minimizing emotional strain and legal costs associated with litigating these matters. By establishing the terms upfront, couples can avoid the acrimony and financial burden that often accompanies contentious divorce proceedings, allowing them to focus on moving forward with their lives in a more amicable and cost-effective manner.

Furthermore, post-marriage agreements can also provide clarity and guidance on complex issues, such as the treatment of inheritances, business interests, and retirement accounts. By addressing these matters proactively, couples can mitigate potential conflicts and ensure that their hard-earned assets are distributed in accordance with their wishes, even in the event of a relationship breakdown.

Limitations and Considerations

While post-marriage agreements offer significant advantages, it’s important to understand some limitations:

Court Review
In certain circumstances, such as fraud, duress, or unconscionable conduct, a court may set aside the agreement or parts of it. While post-marriage agreements are generally upheld by Australian courts, there are instances where the agreement may be deemed invalid or unenforceable. For example, if one party can demonstrate that they were coerced or pressured into signing the agreement under duress, or if there was a significant failure to disclose relevant financial information, a court may conclude that the agreement is unconscionable and choose to disregard it.

Additionally, if the terms of the agreement are deemed to be grossly unfair or manifestly unreasonable, particularly concerning the welfare of any children involved, a court may exercise its discretion to vary or set aside portions of the agreement. It’s crucial for both parties to ensure that the agreement is fair, reasonable, and entered into voluntarily and with full transparency.

Independent Legal Advice
To mitigate the risk of the agreement being challenged or set aside, it’s crucial for both parties to seek independent legal advice throughout the process. Each spouse should be represented by their own legal counsel, separate from the other party, to ensure that they fully understand the agreement’s implications and that their interests are adequately protected.

Independent legal advice helps to ensure that each party is fully informed about their rights and obligations under the agreement and that they are not being unduly influenced or coerced. It also provides an opportunity for lawyers to assess the fairness and reasonableness of the agreement’s terms and to make any necessary adjustments or recommendations.

Living Documents

Life circumstances can change, and the agreement should be reviewed and potentially amended periodically to reflect any significant shifts in financial situations or family dynamics. A post-marriage agreement is not a static document; it should be treated as a living document that evolves with the couple’s changing needs and circumstances.

For instance, the birth of a child, the acquisition of a significant asset or inheritance, or a substantial change in either party’s income or employment status may necessitate a review and potential amendment of the agreement. Failure to update the agreement to reflect these changes could render portions of it obsolete or unfair, potentially leading to legal challenges or disputes in the future.

By regularly reviewing and updating the agreement, couples can ensure that it remains relevant and accurately reflects their current financial situation and future planning goals. This proactive approach can help to minimize potential conflicts and maintain the enforceability of the agreement over time.


Post-marriage agreements are a valuable tool for couples seeking to navigate their financial future with clarity and security. At Law By Dan, our team of experienced family lawyers possesses the expertise to guide law firms and their clients through the post-marriage agreement process. We understand the importance of open communication and work diligently to draft agreements that are fair, comprehensive, and enforceable.

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