More and more British Columbia couples enter marriages with already acquired assets in their respective names. For this reason, signing marriage contracts are becoming a more accepted process than what it was years ago. Marriage agreements give both parties the opportunity to discuss goals, expectations, and plans for the future. The contract will contain their agreements related to the division of property in the unfortunate event of a divorce, and although that is a thought often rather avoided, getting it out of the way can provide peace of mind.
British Columbia has laws that provide guidelines for property division by the court. Couples who want to create rules that differ from those that will apply under the province’s family law can do it by drafting a marriage or cohabitation agreement. However, advisors suggest people must not sign such a contract before fully understanding the legal requirements and applications of it.
Such a contract will determine how assets gathered during the marriage or common-law relationship will be divided upon separation — also in the event of one spouse passing away before separation. The income, debts, and assets of each partner must be fully disclosed, and the signing of the contract must not take place on the eve of the wedding. Each spouse must fully understand the contents of the contract and the consequences of signing it.
The court will also prefer each spouse to have independent legal counsel when signing a marriage agreement. All the plans worked out for the division of property can be disregarded by a British Columbia court if it finds the marriage contract to be invalid. This can happen if the court finds that one spouse did not provide full financial disclosure or if one party can show that he or she did not fully understand what the agreement entailed. A marriage contract that was not signed well in advance of the wedding ceremony can indicate coercion or duress, in which case it can be declared invalid.
Got any family law questions? Contact our family lawyers in Coquitlam:
Laughlin & Company Law
2755 Lougheed Hwy #710, Port Coquitlam, BC V3B 5Y9
Source: business.financialpost.com, “What you need to know before you say ‘I do’ to a marriage contract“, Laurie H. Pawlitza, Accessed on July 7, 2017