In recent years, there have been a number of
high-profile cases in which financial agreements have been set
aside for failing to comply with the technical requirements of the
Family Law Act. One case that has received recent media
attention is that of former Olympic swimming champion Grant
Hackett, who is pursuing legal action against two law firms as a
result of the Family Court setting aside his financial
What is a financial agreement?
A financial agreement, sometimes known as a pre-nuptial
agreement, sets out the way some or all of a couple's assets
will be divided in the event that their relationship breaks down.
It can also deal with spousal maintenance.
In accordance with the Family Law Act, parties may
enter into an agreement before, during or after a marriage or de
In a number of cases, the Family Court has made it clear that
strict technical compliance with the requirements of the Family
Law Act is necessary to avoid a financial agreement being set
aside. The reason for this is that because an agreement effectively
ousts the Court's jurisdiction to make an order for property
adjustment, the Court insists on full compliance with the
substantive and technical requirements of the Act.
What happened in Hackett's case?
Hackett married pop-star Candice Alley in April 2007 and the
pair separated in May 2012.
After their separation, reports in the media indicated that
Hackett and Alley had signed a 'faulty' financial agreement
one month before their wedding. While the news reports are silent
on exactly what the defect was in the agreement, it was reported
that it did not comply with legislative requirements. Alley
succeeded in having the agreement set aside.
As a result, Hackett has apparently instigated a claim against
his lawyers in which he alleges the lawyers neglected to or failed
to perform their services with due care because they did not ensure
the agreement was 'effective, operative and
What does it mean for you?
Financial agreements must be approached very carefully to reduce
the risk of an agreement being set aside by the Family Law Court.
It is imperative for parties who wish to enter into an agreement to
obtain advice from a lawyer well-versed in the requirements of the
Family Law Act, as well as strategic negotiation and
respect for the personalities and the relationship involved.
Cooper Grace Ward's family lawyers have extensive experience
in preparing and providing advice in relation to financial
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The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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