On behalf of Henderson Heinrichs LLP on Thursday, April 16, 2020.
Whether your story has begun with months of intense planning of every detail or your partner simply said, “Move in with me,” the thought of joining your lives in marriage or cohabitation may be much more complex than you realise. In fact, if you are seeing your partnership merely as something that feels good and right, you may be overlooking the important fact that those feelings may change.
Harsh as it may sound, not all relationships last, and breaking up can be extremely difficult, especially if you have intertwined your lives legally and financially. For this reason, many British Columbia couples take the practical and forward-thinking step of signing family law agreements, such as a cohabitation or prenuptial agreement. These documents can help simplify a dissolution process that is often complicated and painful enough.
Will an agreement benefit you?
Prenuptial agreements have a decidedly bad reputation, but more couples are recognising the prudence of planning for the possibility that their relationships will end. The same is true for cohabitation agreements, which are similar to prenups but for couples who are not married. Although the simple purpose of most family law agreements is to determine how the partners will separate their property and finances at the end of their relationships, these agreements can be quite versatile, including the following:
- You can sort out the division of your assets ahead of time to avoid the stress of doing so in the middle of a breakup.
- You can decide at the beginning of a relationship which assets will be exempt from property division.
- You and your partner may discuss whether spousal support will be an issue, especially if one of you plans to leave work to care for children.
- Some couples use family law agreements to make decisions about their marital finances, such as how to use credit and who will manage the budget.
- If you plan to co-own assets without being married, you will want to protect your rights in the event of a breakup.
- You may find that taking these steps before marrying or moving in together may save you a great deal of money if the relationship should end.
No one can see into the future, and the best-case scenario may be that you and your partner spend time and money on an agreement you will never have to put to use. However, if your situation changes, you may be relieved to have your agreement in place to potentially save you and your partner additional conflict during an already painful time.