Calgary Family Lawyers for Prenuptial, Cohabitation & Marriage Agreements
Plan for the Worst, Anticipate the Best
Very few people start common-law relationships or marriages expecting the relationship will end. Unfortunately, many of them do. If your relationship ends and you do not have an agreement in place, your assets, liabilities and support paid or received are dealt with under federal and provincial legislation, including the Divorce Act (for married couples), the Family Property Act and the Family Law Act.
Sometimes people disagree with the way the Acts deal with their assets, or they would have dealt with their assets differently had they known what would happen on the relationship breakdown. A common example? They would not have used their inheritance for ongoing expenses, or they may not have put the down payment on the joint house.
Getting legal advice at the outset of your relationship can help you understand what your rights and obligations might be at a later date. If you and your partner decide that you want to sign a prenuptial agreement to provide some certainty, the Family Law Team at HMC Lawyers can help with that. If you decide not to sign an agreement, that’s okay too.
Prenuptial Agreements, Cohabitation Agreements and Marriage Agreements, Explained
Although these agreements deal with different things, the common goal is putting control over certain matters in case of an eventual separation or divorce into the hands of those in the relationship. These agreements allow a couple to decide these issues at a time when they are happy and can communicate effectively.
The different names of the agreements indicate the timing and the relationship status of the couple at the time the agreement is created. A cohabitation agreement is created when a couple decides to enter into a contract in contemplation of moving in together (or once they are living together). If a couple enters into a similar agreement with while contemplating marriage, this may also be referred to as a prenuptial agreement. A marriage agreement, on the other hand, is entered into after a couple has legally married. Despite the different names, the agreements have similar objectives.
Generally, these agreements will aim to control certain factors if the relationship breaks down. These factors can include:
- The division of property
- Spousal support arrangements
- The apportioning of debts and other liabilities
- How a family business will be treated, if applicable
Certain items that cannot be determined in advance by way of an agreement include child support, or decision-making responsibility (formerly custody) and parenting time (formerly access) issues.
Calgary Family Lawyers Providing Guidance on Domestic Agreements
If you are making a significant change in your relationship, such as moving in together or getting married, or even if you’ve been cohabitating or married for some time, a domestic agreement can help provide certainty for the future. If you and your partner require an agreement or have already had one drafted and need independent legal review for one of the parties before signing, HMC Lawyers can help.
Our Family Law Team is experienced in reviewing, advising on and drafting all types of family agreements. We will ensure you are aware of your rights and obligations and will help you negotiate a mutually beneficial agreement with your partner. If you require independent legal advice regarding an already-drafted agreement, we will review it with you and ensure you understand your rights and liabilities in full before you sign. For advice about a variety of family law agreements, contact us online or call 1-800-480-3534.