5 things the Contestants should have done if the marriages were “real”
I’m sure most of you have seen the ads about the television series, “Married at First Sight”. Although the tv show was a “social experiment” and the marriages were not legal marriages, it raises an interesting question about things the contestants should have considered and discussed if they were entering into a legal marriage. Some of those are:
1. Set a Joint life Plan
Before committing to a marriage, couples should first agree on what they want that marriage to look like. It is important to be on the same page about major long term issues such as:
- Children – Do you want them? If so, how many do you want? When do you want to start your family? Are you open to other avenues if you can’t have children naturally?
- Where do you want to live? It is important to consider where your families, friends and support networks are based and decide whether you want to be close to those networks. Also consider where your jobs are based and whether that is likely to change in the future. If you want kids, where would you want them to go to school? Once you have made a decision about where you would like to live reality test it – can you afford to live there? How will you fund it?
- Religion – it is important for you? If so, and if you want children, what religion will you raise your children?
2. Agree on how to pay for your life together
Will you both work? Will you share your income and expenses equally or will you separate them? Will you have joint bank accounts or separate bank accounts? How will you pay the bills? What if one of you is out of work or takes time off to raise children? What is your plan for affording that?
3. Agree on what roles you will each fulfil in the marriage
As mundane as it sounds, it is important to decide on the division of labour for household chores (both inside and outside of the home). Think about your strengths and weaknesses, your working hours and what is viable for each of you. By being open and upfront about what tasks each of you will manage you should be able to avoid resentment, and the best bit is once the chores are done – there’s more time for play!
4. Agree on what will happen to your current assets & debts
What are the assets and debts you each have at the beginning of the relationship? Who will be responsible for payment of the debts? Who will be responsible for the ongoing costs of any assets? (like housing costs etc). Will you continue to own assets and liabilities separately or do you want to accumulate property in joint names? Will you own any jointly acquired property equally, or will you own it in the proportion you each contribute? What if you get an inheritance during the marriage, will that be applied for your joint benefit or will it be kept separate from your joint assets?
5. Agree on what will happen if you separate
How will you divide your assets and liabilities if you separate? If there are children, who will be responsible for their care? How will you both jointly fund the care of your children after separation? If you received an inheritance during your marriage, how will it be divided if you separate? What about your superannuation, will you divide that or will you each keep your own?
The good news is that once couples have sat down, discussed and agreed on all of the above, they can enter into a Binding Financial Agreement (“an Agreement”), which sets out the “Rules” for their marriage and what will happen if they separate. Having an Agreement in place means that both parties have a clear understanding at the time of entering into their marriage of what will happen during the marriage and how each person will be supported if they separate, this takes a lot of the pressure off and lets the couples focus on their relationship.
Agreements can also be entered into between de facto and same sex couples.
For more information about Binding Financial Agreements, please contact the Family Law Team at Watkins Tapsell.