I have clients come to me and say, “I would like a prenuptial agreement. I just want what’s fair.” My reflex response as a family lawyer is to say, “Let’s set the record straight. If you just wanted what was fair you wouldn’t need the pre-nuptial agreement. What you want is an agreement which is not fair and is in your favour.”
It’s not surprising that I don’t do as many prenuptial agreements in practice, as maybe I could.
There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. Families with enormous amounts of capital invested in their business, such as farming families often need the financial security of a prenuptial agreement to protect their assets.
Enterprises like these and the family relationships that are built around them are often dependent upon keeping the business assets intact. In the event of a family law situation where an owner or a partner in a family farm is obliged to buy out their spouse, the entire enterprise faces either a draining of working capital or a carve-up of the income-producing asset which compromises everyone involved.
In circumstances where an extended family unit is co-dependent, or the economic viability of the enterprise is dependent upon those assets, prenuptial agreements make a lot of sense.
An example of the use of prenuptial agreements, or financial agreements, as they are referred to in the Family Law Act, as a succession planning tool was shown in the article titled ‘Pre-nup a succession secret’ appeared in the Weekly Times NOW on 28 September 2010. It involved a case study where such agreements were used in the fifth-generation family business of Brown Brothers Wine Makers.
If you have substantial family assets that require protection by a prenuptial agreement (financial agreement) or have been asked to sign a prenuptial agreement with your proposed spouse contact a family law specialist.