Protecting the Farm on Breakdown of Marriage

Protecting the Farm on Breakdown of Marriage

1 July 2002

By Andrew Davies and Trevor O’Sullivan

Clearly, when parties marry, they hope to stay together ‘til death do they part.  However, that is regrettably not always the case.  In more than 40% of marriages, the parties will separate.

It is therefore prudent to consider ways in which assets, and in particular the farm, can be protected in the unfortunate event of the breakdown of a marriage. 

One such way is for the parties to enter into a financial agreement (commonly known as a pre-nuptial agreement) prior to their marriage.

Due to recent changes to the Family Law Act, financial agreements can now be binding.

It is possible for parties to a marriage to set out in a document how their property and financial resources (owned prior to marriage or acquired after the marriage) are to be dealt with if the marriage was to end.  In this way, sensible and constructive discussions can occur, preferably before marriage, about what is a fair and reasonable division of assets:  often not possible after a separation!

There are minimum requirements to ensure the financial agreement is binding including each of the parties obtaining independent legal advice as to the meaning and effect of the agreement and whether it is prudent and reasonable for the party to enter into the agreement.

If the relevant requirements are not met, the financial agreement cannot be enforced.

Where a financial agreement is in force, the property it deals with cannot be the subject of Family Court proceedings for a property settlement.  Spousal maintenance may also be covered.

By entering into a financial agreement, the parties choose to “contract out” of any entitlements they might otherwise have under the Family Law Act.

Financial (Pre-nuptial) agreements are a new and important addition to estate planning generally that can be used to prevent potential future problems and the possible loss of the family farm.

We’re Here to Help

Family law matters can be difficult and complex. If you require any assistance with a family law dispute, always contact a legal practitioner who will be able to help.

O’Sullivan Davies has practitioners experienced both in drafting and reviewing Financial Agreements. More information about our services can be found at our About Us page here.


This article is not legal advice and the views and comments are of a general nature only. This article is not to be relied upon in substitution for detailed legal advice.

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