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Alberta couples: 3 things to know about cohabitation agreements

If you are in a committed relationship, you may not have the desire or resources to take the jump from committed to married. This doesn't mean you must leave yourself vulnerable to complications and uncertainty in the event of a breakup.

Cohabitating couples in Alberta have the option of creating a cohabitation agreement that can provide valuable guidance and protection in the event that the relationship ends. If you are considering this option, there are a few critical details you should know.

  1. Not everyone needs a cohabitation agreement. These types of agreements may be increasingly common, but as this article discusses, not everyone needs one. Generally speaking, cohabitation agreements can be helpful for people with specific or substantial property. With a legal agreement in place, everyone can feel confident in what will happen to that property. This can be especially valuable in situations involving family businesses or complex assets.
  2. Not every agreement is valid. Coming to an agreement on finances and property division in the event of a breakup can give couples a great sense of relief. However, that relief may be fleeting if the agreement is invalid. There are numerous reasons why a cohabitation agreement may be unenforceable, so it can be wise to enlist the services of a lawyer if you decided to put one in place. Further, you should note that how the law treats these agreements will vary by province. 
  3. Not everything can be resolved in a cohabitation agreement. These agreements are to provide guidance and protection regarding the division of finances and property. A cohabitation agreement is not to address child custody or child support issues or to assign penalties for relationship misconduct.

Cohabitating couples may feel comfortable assuming they don't need a formal cohabitation agreement or creating one themselves. However, these are common missteps that can ultimately work against a couple. Therefore, before you make any decisions when it comes to these or other family law agreements, you may wish to discuss your case with a lawyer.

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