Insight: Sept 11

This week on Insight is “To Have and Withhold” hosted by Jenny Brockie.

Who’s getting prenups, and how binding are they?

When Fidan Shevket started dating her boyfriend, she wouldn’t let him leave a toothbrush at her Neutral Bay apartment. She was worried it could be used as evidence of a de facto relationship, which could give him claim to part of her home if they ever broke up.

“I’ve always been very straightforward with him since the beginning of the relationship,” Fidan tells Insight’s Jenny Brockie. “If we’re ever going to move in together, if we’re ever going to get married, if we’re ever going to do anything to make this relationship go to the next level – then I absolutely want a [prenuptial agreement].”

Fidan has been a family lawyer for 15 years and has seen how bitter break-ups can get, especially when it comes to the division of assets.

So, after two and a half years with her boyfriend, she is writing up what she calls “the greatest [prenup] ever drafted.”

“This thing is unstoppable and if ever he tried, it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to set this thing aside,” Fidan says.

When Kathy Robinson met her now husband, Cam Robinson, money was tight.

She had four children and had just come out of a difficult break-up where she was left with the family home, a big mortgage and little savings.

Cam, who was single with no children and owned multiple properties, had far more in assets than Kathy – so a discussion about getting a prenup arose early in the relationship. But the couple quickly decided it wasn’t for them.

Just the conversation itself was putting a negative spin on the relationship and they wanted to focus their efforts on making it work, rather than having what Cam calls an “easy way out if something goes wrong.”

“Going into a relationship you have to have trust,” Kathy says. “If you can’t trust your partner, then who can you trust really?”

Family lawyer Jodylee Bartal writes prenups for her clients and says they are no longer just the domain of the rich and famous. She is seeing more people asking for them – and she has had some strange requests.

“I often get asked a lot of questions around lifestyle clauses,” she tells Jenny.

“Like, fidelity maybe?” Jenny asks. “Certainly, or weight gain … all sorts of things,” explains Jodylee.

These sorts of clauses aren’t legally binding, and putting too much detail into prenups can increase the risk of the Family Court voiding the agreement.

But Fidan’s prenup gets right into the nitty gritty of financials in the relationship – down to who will pay the Netflix bill.

For all of Fidan’s efforts, her boyfriend has not yet signed the prenup, and Jenny Brockie asks what would happen if he decided not to.

“If he doesn’t sign, I’ve been very clear on this: if he doesn’t sign it there’s big trouble, meaning the relationship will probably come to an end – almost definitely, it will come to an end.”

Tuesday September 11, 8.30pm on SBS.

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