Article: by Jessica England, family lawyer in Vancouver,m on West Broadway, with Jessica England, LLB, &
Anna Perry, Senior family law lawyer on West Broadway near Hemlock, in Vancouver BC Anna Perry, LLB, Vancouver family law lawyers

BC common law couples and married spouses have the ability to opt-out of the Family Law Act - new family law legislation in BC - and dictate the terms of their future possible separation that work well for them by entering into a Marriage or Cohabitation Agreement at the beginning of their relationship.

There are many reasons that a couple may decide to get a marriage or cohabitation agreement.  In particular, I would strongly encourage anyone who is about to get married or enter into a common law relationship to consult a lawyer regarding an agreement if they are in one of the following situations:

  • they have substantial assets, whereas the other party does not
  • they have children from a previous relationship
  • they own a business or have a professional practice
  • they would like to maintain separate financial affairs and remain independent and self-sufficient
  • in the case of a cohabiting couple or a couple moving in together, a situation where the potential client does not want to take on, at least at this time, the commitment and obligations that the new Family Law Act imposes on common law couples
  • they are making a financial or career-related sacrifice in order to marry or be in the relationship

Having an agreement in place at the beginning of the relationship drastically cuts down on the potential expense, stress and uncertainty inherent in separation, and allows the parties to maintain their privacy.  The Courts generally strive to uphold agreements between parties, provided that the parties make full disclosure of their financial situation, were not subject to any stress or pressure to sign the agreement, and provided that the provisions made in the agreement are not extremely unreasonable or unconscionable.

Couples who take advantage of the opportunity to agree in advance on how assets would be divided in the event of separation give themselves a measure a certainty and peace of mind that allow them to focus on the marriage or relationship instead of worrying about the consequences of relationship breakdown.  In the event that a relationship does end, or where a party is contemplating bringing an end to the relationship, an agreement provides general guideline of what their financial future holds, which provides a welcome measure of certainty and comfort in a turbulent time.

Reasons to have a marriage and cohabitation agreements

Couples enter into different kinds of marriage and cohabitation agreements for different reasons.  Each agreement is specific to the needs and wishes of the couple, and some are quite simple, while others are more detailed or more complex.  In some cases, one or both parties simply wish to protect assets accumulated before the relationship, but would like to move forward in the relationship pooling their income and acquiring assets together.  In other cases, a party might wish to protect assets such as property embroiled in expensive and troublesome litigation in the future.  Some parties may wish to have both separate and joint assets throughout their relationship, or may wish to preserve certain items that have sentimental value to them.

Many couples who are well-established in their lives and careers already, particularly if they have children from a previous relationship, choose to maintain separate financial affairs throughout their relationship.  In the latter case, the parties may wish to specify how the parties would each contribute to the amenities and resources that they share.  Spousal support is also an issue that may or may not be addressed by the parties to the agreement.  There are as many different agreements as there are couples, with each couple expressing different needs and expectations.

Authors of above article on marriage/cohabitation agreements

Jessica England, Vancouver family lawyer with

Jessica England, Barrister & Solicitor Vancouver author of article above - is in 2013 a new content contributor to

JESSICA ENGLAND - Practice background

Jessica practices in all BC family law areas including custody, access, support and division of assets in Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and Provincial Court files in addition to her non-litigation files involving negotiation and preparation of family law Agreements for separation, cohabitation, parenting and co-ownership of property. Jessica's files involve both collaborative negotiations and litigations of issues of support, custody, guardianship, marriage, separation and divorce with property division issues under the BC family law in the Divorce Act, Family Relations Act, Law and Equity Act and the Land (Spouse) Protection Act of BC.

Jessica is well known for her practical and reasoned approach to resolving cohabitation, separation and divorce disputes. Most particularly, the new Family Law Act in BC will change family law in BC in March 2013 and Jessica has prepared new template cohabitation and separation agreements for the new Act's changed law.

Telephone: 604-734-7911

Web site:

Recent court room decision: Yu v. Jordan, 2012 BCCA-Court of Appeal of British Columbia.

Anna Perry, Senion family lawyer with Vancouver's Westside family law firm on Broadway0

Family Lawyer
Barrister & Solicitor

Westside Family Law
Many years of law experience are provided by Westside Family Law at Vancouver’s prominent, well-established BC family and divorce firm in the west side’s urban South Granville among the avenue of art galleries and luxury shops.

Anna Perry, senior partner at Westside has the confidence of BC’s elite entrepreneurs, academics, artisans, professionals and executives for trusted advice about family property and asset preservation, in beginning or ending of a common law or marriage relationship by written agreement or litigation.  Anna Perry provides discretion and expertise in family law matters involving high income, significantly high value assets and multiple corporate and trust holdings.

Westside’s legal services include:

  • divorce, legal separation
  • spousal support
  • child custody and child support
  • property division settlements
  • marriage, separation and new co-habitation agreements
  • protection of family assets
  • family law mediations
  • Mark Perry, family lawyer and certified mediator, as well as experienced wills disputes lawyer, senior partner at Perry Law, dba West Side Family law in Vancouver, BC wills disputes re estates and wills variation litigation and settlements

Westside takes the proper steps necessary to protect and preserve your legal rights and options.

Contact Westside at:
#420 - 1367 West Broadway,
Vancouver, B.C. V6H 4A7

located near to Hemlock Street just east of Granville
Phone 1-604-734-7911 for trusted legal advice

Web site:

Copyright © 2001-2013 Mark G. Perry Law Corp. dba “Westside Family Law”.  All rights reserved other than as authorized by licence.

Victoria, BC Family Lawyers
Lisa Eames, family lawyer and certified mediator, downtown Victoria BC Map to Lisa Eames, downtown Victoria, BC, office
Misty Hillard, experienced family lawyer with Hutchison Oss-Cech  Marlatt lawyers  on Fisgard St., downtown Victoria BC Misty Hillard, Family lawyer,
Upon a family breakdown, Hutchison Oss-Cech Marlatt will advise you as to your rights and ensure that you are protected.

Our firm deals with all aspects of a family breakdown, including:

  • spousal maintenance,
  • child custody, access,
  • maintenance,
  • property division and
  • divorce.

Our firm not only deals with the litigation of family disputes but also has extensive experience in:

  • the drafting of family law agreements,
  • drafting prenuptial agreements,
  • drafting co-habitation agreements and
  • drafting separation agreements.

If you require assistance with your family matter consider our services -- however due to demand, we do not provide free consultations.

Canada Legal info:: profile Hutchison Oss-Cech Marlatt
barristers & solicitors

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