Money can often be a big source of contention and stress in a relationship. Issues can arise for many reasons: when one partner is not being entirely open about their finances, when there is an unequal balance of power when it comes to managing money or contention over who contributes the most financially to the relationship.

In every relationship, it’s important that both parties feel financially empowered and equal where money matters are concerned. This is what’s called a healthy financial relationship.

So, what does a ‘healthy financial relationship’ look like, what steps can you take to protect yourself financially and what should you do if you if you suspect your partner is being dishonest about money?

Working towards a healthy financial relationship

While every relationship is different, there are a few ways in which you and your partner can have a healthy financial relationship: 

  1. Start by being open and honest with each other about your attitudes towards money. In speaking with family law clients, our Sydney Family Lawyers often find that disagreements can arise when one partner is being secretive about money and potentially hiding assets from the other. Trust is so important in a relationship and once that trust is lost, it can be hard to come back from. It’s important to know where the other person stands with regards to finances and vice versa.

  2. Be clear about what your financial goals are and set some joint financial goals together. Think about both short-term and long-term financial goals. A good idea is to document those goals so that you are both in agreement about what was discussed. Be clear about any joint or sole assets each of you may have – property is one example of this.

  3. Ensure that you both have access to financial statements and information. Setting up joint bank accounts or having a shared credit card can be a good way to contribute towards a shared financial future.

  4. Wherever possible, it’s important to make joint financial decisions. This should be regardless of whether one of you earns more money than the other, or manages the day-to-day administration of the couple’s finances.

How to secure your financial future

Communication is one of the most important tools of a healthy financial relationship. It’s important to communicate openly, honestly and often about money so that you’re both clear on your position and where you stand. In many family law matters, a breakdown of trust often occurs when one partner goes quiet where money is concerned and they start being secretive and either hiding money away or not disclosing to their partner where the money is going (or coming in). 

If you are worried that your partner is not being open and honest with you about their finances, or you can’t seem to agree about your finances – particularly when it concerns property matters – seeking expert advice from a Sydney family lawyer can help you to better understand what your rights are and what you can do to protect yourself.

One way in which you can formalise any property and financial matters in your relationship is through a ‘Binding Financial Agreement.’ This can be done at any point during a relationship. Some people often refer to it as a “pre-nuptial agreement.”

It’s basically a legal document that states how your assets, financial resources and liabilities will be divided if your relationship breaks down. Your Sydney family lawyer can help you with this. You can learn more about Binding Financial Agreements here.

Getting help if you suspect financial abuse

Transparency around money is such an important key to having a healthy financial relationship with your partner. But all relationships are different and sometimes, this is not always the case. If you suspect your partner is hiding money or assets away from you, it’s important to get legal expert advice from a qualified family lawyer as soon as possible – to secure yours and your family’s financial future.

If you would like to have a confidential discussion about your situation, give one of our friendly Sydney family lawyers a call on (02) 9262 4003 or submit an online enquiry.

To learn more on this topic, including what constitutes financial abuse in a relationship and the steps you need to take if you’ve uncovered or may be the victim of financial abuse, please refer to the below two articles:

The content of this article is intended as a general guide to the subject matter. For specific legal advice about your individual circumstances, please contact our experienced lawyers.

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