Prenuptial agreements

What Is a Prenup?

Simply put, a prenuptial agreement (also known as a premarital agreement or antenuptial agreement) is a contract that a couple signs before getting married to figure out their finances in case of a divorce. “Prenuptial agreements cover how a couple splits their finances, what each party’s separate property is (what they come into the marriage with) and how they would split their home.


Case study
(Australian Associated Press)

The East European bride of a millionaire Australian property developer has won a landmark legal battle against pre- and post-nuptial agreements she signed.

The High Court on Wednesday set aside both agreements because of “unconscionable conduct”.

The couple met online in 2006 when she was 36 and he was a 67-year-old divorcee with three children and assets of more than $18 million. They married the following year, separated in 2011 and he died in 2014.

He had told her shortly after they met that, if they married, “you will have to sign paper. My money is for my children”.

She signed a prenup four days before the wedding, despite her solicitor warning her against signing, after the groom told her the ceremony would not proceed unless she signed.

The agreement provided that she would receive a total payment of $50,000, inflation-adjusted, in the event of a separation after three years, as well as a penthouse worth up to $1.5 million and a continuing income if he died before they separated.

She also signed a similar agreement two months later.

But after they separated she started proceedings in the Federal Court seeking orders to declare the agreements non-binding, which that court did – saying the wife signed “under duress born of inequality of bargaining power”.

Last year the full bench of the Family Court in Brisbane allowed the appeal of the husband’s representatives, finding the agreements were binding.

But the High Court has unanimously allowed the wife’s appeal against that decision and said her application for property adjustment and lump sum maintenance orders would be determined by the Federal Circuit Court.


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