On 25 November 2015, the Family Law Amendment (Financial Agreements and Other Measures) Bill 2015 was introduced into the Senate. According to the Explanatory Memorandum:
“…it [the Bill] aims to provide greater clarity and certainty to separating couples attempting to resolve their financial affairs without resorting to a court, enable the courts to offer better protection to victims of family violence, and improve the efficiency and operation of the family law courts.”
The Bill has been introduced to address concerns surrounding the enforceability of Binding Financial Agreements and the risk of such Agreements being set aside by the courts. The uncertainty surrounding Binding Financial Agreements has led to some legal practitioners refusing to draft agreements for their clients.
If passed, this Bill will amend the Financial Agreement regime in the Family Law Act 1975 (the Act). It aims to:
- remove existing uncertainties around requirements for entering, interpreting and enforcing agreements
- make changes to the coverage of spousal maintenance matters in agreements
- introduce a statement of principles, and
- reinforce the binding nature of the agreements to offer certainty to parties.
The Bill would also amend the Act in an effort to:
- strengthen protections from violence in certain procedural matters
- strengthen Australia’s response to international parental child abduction
- assist the operation of the family law courts, and
- make minor and technical amendments, including clarifying definitions and removing redundant provisions.
Nicholes Family Lawyers will be closely following the progress of the Bill.