Cohabitation And Marriage Agreements. Your Most Widespread Questions Answered.

Cohabitation and Marriage Agreements might be overwhelming in the event you don’t know the place to begin.  As a household lawyer working towards in BC I’m steadily requested many questions on marriage agreements.  I’m hopeful that this text will allow you to by answering the commonest questions I get requested by pals, relations, present and potential shoppers.

Do I really want a cohabitation settlement or marriage settlement?

As household legal professionals, we can not make this determination for you and everybody’s wants are distinctive. For those who perceive the fundamental assumptions inside household regulation throughout a separation, equivalent to 50/50 break up of belongings and debt acquired throughout the relationship, together with improve in worth on something introduced into or acquired throughout the relationship by means of inheritance or reward, or potential spousal help entitlements payable, and people determinations don’t sit effectively with you- you SHOULD get a cohabitation settlement or marriage settlement.

Why? Marriage Agreements let you higher management how your property will likely be divided and the way a lot spousal help could also be payable by both companion ought to your relationship breakdown. These Agreements are additionally meant to acknowledge what every companion is bringing into the connection, how any improve in worth will likely be handled, how items, inheritances, settlements, windfalls, and even how pets will likely be handled. You’ll be able to regain management of the method and set a framework for a way all the things will likely be handled.

Are marriage agreements well worth the paper they’re printed on?


To assist be certain that the Cohabitation or Marriage Settlement is enforceable and that the Courtroom is not going to overturn it or discover the contents considerably unfair to both particular person, the next needs to be thought of:

  1. be very thorough and embody as a lot element as attainable about every companion’s present and potential monetary future;
  2. rent a lawyer that makes a speciality of household regulation to draft the Settlement;
  3. present full monetary disclosure;
  4. embody a evaluation clause that provides the events an opportunity to make revisions periodically, if you’ll really do a evaluation;
  5. if both social gathering has a really excessive present or potential internet price, embody some degree of property division;
  6. if there are kids or plans for kids, embody some degree of spousal help; and
  7. each events ought to have unbiased authorized recommendation from their very own separate lawyer.

For those who comply with the rules listed above, you’ll keep away from lots of the pitfalls which have traditionally made these Agreements unenforceable previously.

This feels like loads of work, the place do I even begin?

Begin with a dialog. The perfect place to begin is to have a really mature and open dialog together with your companion about every of your values, monetary targets, and finally the imaginative and prescient you every have of your future collectively. Ideally, you should have these conversations early within the relationship that will help you to find out when you have a appropriate plan together with your potential long-term companion. The earlier you might have these conversations, the better it’s to find out in case your values and targets line up.

When you perceive each of your intentions and have agreed {that a} cohabitation settlement or marriage settlement suits the wants of your relationship, one in every of you must rent a lawyer to begin drafting the Settlement. This lawyer will assist reply your whole questions and be certain that your intentions are captured inside the Settlement.

What if I’m already married or thought of common-law, do I’ve choices?


Cohabitation agreements and marriage agreements might be entered into at any time within the relationship together with earlier than you progress in collectively, after dwelling collectively for 2 years, and even after being married for any period of time. Nonetheless, the problem with these Agreements is that they’re more durable to barter for the reason that rights and obligations granted by the laws are already in impact. Thus, there could also be much less incentive for both social gathering to signal relying on their respective monetary place.  For relationships of brief length, particularly with out youngsters, there should be negotiating room, however in the event you’ve been in a relationship for 10 years, negotiations are going to be completely dependent upon the goodwill of each events concerned.

How do I do know if I’m in a common-law relationship?

Many individuals have no idea if their relationship is taken into account common-law. The definition of a common-law relationship varies inside Canada.

Federally, people are thought of common-law in the event that they stay collectively in a marital relationship and will not be married, for interval of 12 or extra steady months (or for CRA functions have a toddler collectively). That is related for submitting your taxes however will not be the definition inside the context of household regulation.

Provincially, every province has a unique definition. In British Columbia, a person is in a common-law relationship in the event that they:

  1. stay collectively in a wedding like relationship for at the least 2 years; or
  2. Though they aren’t common-law, and can’t apply for property division beneath the Household Legislation Act, a pair who’ve a toddler collectively are thought of spouses for the aim of spousal help.

Is there legally a distinction between being common-law and being married?

The distinction between the 2 has turn into much less apparent after the Household Relations Act was changed with the Family Law Act in 2013. That is the piece of laws that governs household regulation inside British Columbia.

With this alteration in laws, common-law spouses had the identical rights and obligations as married spouses. This was a progressive change that positioned the next worth on the contributions of a common-law partner to the connection and allowed for extra equality within the absence of marriage.

The actual distinction is that when the connection breaks down, married {couples} should search a proper divorce by means of the Supreme Courtroom of British Columbia, whereas common-law spouses can separate with out formal enter from the Courtroom. There are additionally variations within the limitation intervals set on each for after they can search spousal help or division of property reduction from the Courtroom.

This course of doesn’t should be overwhelming. We’re right here to reply any questions you might have about acquiring a cohabitation or marriage settlement. It’s higher to know your choices after which determine the place to go from there. Name 604-974-9529 or get in contact.