Why Is The Divorce Rate Falling In Australia?

Are Australian couples doing better at staying together? The answer is that we don’t really know.

The number of divorces in Australia is falling,  but we know that the marriage rate is  also falling, so it follows that the raw numbers of divorces would also fall. This does not tell us very much about the rate at which couples are separating or staying together, when you take into account  that there are many couples who do not formalise their relationship by marriage, but may not define their relationship as de facto.

It is believed that approximately 20% of domestic partnerships are de facto relationships rather than formal marriages. This statistic may not be reliable, because there are many people who do not  describe themselves as being in a de facto relationship, but who would be seen that way in the eyes of the law.

Family Law Act and De Facto Relationships

On 1  March 2009,  the law changed in Australia to bring  most de facto relationships under the Family Law Act.  What we know anecdotally, and from cases that have been heard in  the Courts since that time,  is that it came as a surprise to many people that they could go to bed one night regarding themselves as single  and wake up to find themselves as-good-as-married. Predictably enough, many people in that situation were not even aware that the law had changed, and the whole question about the legal nature of their relationship may not have figured in their life.

The time when the question about whether  people are single or in a de facto relationship is likely to be asked and answered is at the time of separation. The decisions of the courts have made it clear that  it is the court who will decide whether a person is in a de facto relationship, rather than one or both of  the people concerned.

Bind Financial Agreement | Awkward but Necessary?

Because  of the disconnect  between  the way  people see  their relationship and the way the law might see their relationship, and because there is no requirement  to register  the start or finish of a de facto relationship, we cannot be precise about  separation rates.

If people want to  manage their finances as a single person, but are in  an intimate relationship  with another adult, it pays to obtain legal advice about how the law would see  that relationship,  and the  rights and responsibilities that attach. It is possible to draw legal agreements  prior to or during  de facto relationships  or marriages,  which  provide for  how finances are to be managed.

These legal agreements are known as ‘pre-nups’ for de-factos and for people who intend to marry. Their formal description is a ‘binding financial agreement’ although commonly know as a “pre nuptial” in the community.

Many lawyers prefer not to act for the less wealthy client in these agreements, because of the risk that buyers remorse will later cause complaints about the lawyer. Working with Psychologists and Financial Planners as part of the negotiation and drafting team, removes much of this concern. That’s why these agreements are so much better, done by collaborative professionals, where all the emotional as well as the financial cards are on the table.

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These legal agreements are known as ‘pre-nups’ for de-factos and for people who intend to marry. Their formal description is a ‘binding financial agreement’ although commonly know as a pre nuptial in the community.

Many lawyers prefer not to act for the less wealthy client in these agreements, because of the risk that buyers remorse will later cause complaints about the lawyer. Working with Psychologists and Financial Planners as part of the negotiation and drafting team, removes much of this concern. That’s why these agreements are so much better, done by collaborative professionals, where all the emotional as well as the financial cards are on the table.

Raising the  question of these agreements with a partner can be  delicate, and it is a normal part of my practice to encourage people to involve  the skills and assistance of  a psychologist or counsellor,  as well as a financial planner and lawyer, to  agree and create documents as required.

Smart Separation

About The Author - Smart Separation.

It is my passion to challenge traditional thinking about divorce, to see common sense prevail, so that divorce is separated from ‘the law’ and outside of courts. Apart from mediation and collaboration being my daily bread, as a practitioner and a trainer, I aim to change the world. A little. If you are keen to learn more about reaching an amicable settlement, please call 9939 6383 for more information or an appointment.