Posted on 13 May 2015
Locking in the terms of your love with lifestyle clauses
By Slater and Gordon
Would you lock in terms and conditions for your relationship before you tied the knot? Many people are and the reasons might surprise you.
Lifestyle clauses are on the rise with more and more couples choosing to set out ‘terms and conditions’ for their relationship and/or their partners before walking down the aisle.
Lifestyle clauses, usually created as an addendum to a binding financial agreement, can set out all manner of things but are increasingly used by couples to iron out potential issues that might occur down the track.
Some people get right down to the things that are likely to cause conflict in an attempt to bypass that conflict. It’s not uncommon for people to set out how they will raise children - what religion they will be raised as or whether they will go to a public or private school. Others will both agree they will take equal leave or share working arrangements after the birth of a child.
For some couples, particularly if they are not having a church wedding where pre-marriage counseling is par for the course, this is often the first time they sit down and talk about their values, goals and what their expectations are for their marriage. And increasingly we are seeing requests for lifestyle clauses from people who are remarrying, because they don’t want the same problems that occurred in their first marriage to occur again.
As a family lawyer, the requests I’ve seen range from the practical to the bizarre. Not unexpectedly, we are seeing people using them to set out how they will divide non-financial assets such as pets, sentimental objects and even social media accounts.
Some of the more bizarre examples include clauses around how much time couples will spend with each other, how often they will take holidays or even things like the maximum weight a partner can gain and frequency of sex. I’ve even seen people enter into ‘open marriages’, agreeing that they can have other sexual partners that won’t affect their core relationship. And tales abound of celebrity lifestyle clauses that would see one partner paid a sum of money if the other cheats.
While lifestyle clauses are not binding at law, there’s really no limit to what or how much detail people can include, and anything that encourages open communication from the outset is bound to minimize issues down the track.
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