Ask a Marriage Lawyer – What is the Value of a Marriage Contract or Cohabitation Agreement?
Jun 20, 2023
A good marriage lawyer know that Marriage Contracts (also called a Prenuptial Agreement or prenup) have a bad reputation. Typically, the media portrays marriage contracts in the context of a wealthy person trying to protect their assets by “surprising” their intended spouse with a prenup. Alternatively, that same person becomes the hero when they turn their back on their wealthy family, refusing to “force” a prenup on their relationship.
And while there are likely some instances where that happens in real life, the truth is that a good Marriage Contract or Cohabitation Agreement should protect both partners in a relationship, and ideally help ensure their relationship gets off to a solid start.
The general purpose of a Marriage Contract or Cohabitation Agreement is to outline the rights and responsibilities of each partner if the relationship breaks down. Some issues – like who owns the home – may not be as clear as you think at the outset. But generally, couples are hesitant to engage a marriage lawyer to talk about a breakdown in their relationship.
So, let’s flip the script and talk about how creating a Marriage Agreement / Cohabitation Agreement can be a positive step in your relationship.
A Marriage Contract or Cohabitation Agreement Can Kick Start the Financial Conversation
One of the top reasons continually cited for relationship breakdowns is finances. It’s easy to give in to the love chemicals that flood our brains and bodies, like dopamine and norepinephrine, which make us feel happy and energetic about a relationship. In this state, it can be difficult to think practically, or even long-term, about the relationship.
Working with a marriage lawyer to prepare a Marriage Contract or Cohabitation Agreement allows you to face finances head-on, and take steps to help ensure financial disagreements don’t spiral into separation.
For example, if one spouse is coming into a relationship with debt, a marriage contract can lay out how you will dispose of the debt, and manage your finances (together or separately) going forward.
A Marriage Lawyer Can Help You Protect Your Business
Many people today own their own businesses, whether as an employer or solopreneurs. If one or both spouses is a business owners, a Marriage Contract can help define long-term ownership and responsibility for the business(es) – including decision-making, management, debts, and profits. This not only protects the business in case of divorce, but also helps define your ideals at the onset of the relationship, hopefully reducing any potential conflict.
A Marriage Lawyer Can Build a Marriage Contract or Cohabitation Agreement to Help With Family Interests
A Marriage Contract can help ensure children from a previous relationship are included in property division, like family heirlooms you wish to pass down to them. It can also include stipulations on how you will manage saving for children’s education or division of labour in the relationship. They can also include how you intend to take care of spouses and children from previous relationships.
Set Your Relationship Up for Success with a Marriage Contract or Cohabitation Agreement
If you are engaged, or considering moving in together as a couple, visiting a marriage lawyer to discuss and/or prepare a Cohabitation Agreement or Marriage Contract can be a great way to strengthen your relationship. Should you have a Cohabitation Agreement and decide to marry, that agreement automatically becomes a Marriage Contract.
Cohabitation Agreements and Marriage Contracts are generally enforceable in Canada, although not all terms will be. Should your relationship break down, the courts may determine against stipulations in the contract, for example, if provisions are not “in the best interests of the child” or are extremely unfair to one partner or the other.
An experienced marriage lawyer can advise you as to whether the terms you wish to add to your Cohabitation Agreement or Marriage Contract will be accepted by the courts.
Contact the Kelly D. Jordan Family Law Firm When You Need a Marriage Lawyer
If you are looking for a family lawyer who specializes in Marriage Contracts or Cohabitation Agreements, reach out to the family law team at the Kelly D. Jordan Family Law Firm. Together, we have decades of experience in family law – in mediation, at the negotiation table, and in court. Reach out to us today, or start your family law case online.
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