British Columbia residents who are considering marriage or entering into a cohabitation relationship may find it difficult to broach the subject of domestic contracts. However, most people who make such commitments might have already accumulated some assets that will need protection if the marriage or common-law relationship ends. Without the protection of a marriage or cohabitation agreement that specifies the personal assets, some may be lost in the division of property.
Couples that get married can sign marriage contracts, and joint law partners can sign cohabitation agreements. Those entering into a second marriage typically bring many personal assets into the union. However, if, for example, the couple resides in a home that one of the two spouses owned before the marriage, the other spouse may have a claim on the property in the event of a divorce — if this was not specified in a marriage agreement. Mortgage lawyers will fight for both sides in this case, and it may end up being a long drawn process of court cases and arguments.
Another scenario to consider is a couple who moves in together, and the man verbally assures the woman that he will share all his assets with her. If they never record that promise in a cohabitation agreement and then comes the day that the relationship ends, the woman has no right to any assets that were pledged to her. Another type of domestic contract is a separation agreement that a couple can draft to record how they plan to deal with various issues that typically arise when a relationship ends. This can protect in the absence of a marriage or cohabitation agreement.
Some British Columbia couples that are considering marriage or cohabitation agreements may have questions about the legal requirements of such contracts. The most suitable step to take might be for each party to consult with an experienced family law lawyer who can answer questions and explain how such an agreement can protect the assets of each party during the division of property. The lawyer can assist with drafting a contract that will hold up in court if it is challenged.
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Source: lukesplace.ca, “What are domestic contracts?“, Pamela Cross, Accessed on May 19, 2017