WHY HAVE A MARRIAGE OR COHABITATION AGREEMENT?
Jessica England, LLB, &
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:
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, Barrister & Solicitor Vancouver author of article above - is in 2013 a new content contributor to CanadaLegal.info
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.
FOR A CONSULTATION WITH JESSICA:
Web site: PerryLawBC.com
Recent court room decision: Yu v. Jordan, 2012 BCCA-Court of Appeal of British Columbia.
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