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Family law: Saying I do to a marriage contract

Marriage contracts are becoming more acceptable, but before signing on the dotted line, there are some things of which people should be aware. These types of contracts in Alberta -- which also include cohabitation agreements for couples who choose to live together without marrying -- fall under family law rules. Understanding how the law applies to these contracts is crucial before signing them.

Alberta, as in other provinces, has laws which detail how the division of assets should take place in the event of a divorce or separation. Having a marriage contract can speak to issues regarding a home that was brought into the marriage or relationship or what should happen if a spouse is given a gift before the marriage takes place. They are also used at times when an individual is marrying for a second time. A marriage contract must meet certain requirements under the law, so getting independent legal counsel may be beneficial.

For instance, it is incumbent upon each individual to disclose his or her financial picture -- assets, debts and income -- prior to the signing of any contract. Each person must understand what he or she is signing and understand the possible consequences of the contract. The contract would not be valid if any undue influence was exerted to get a signature.

There are many possible ramifications of signing these types of agreements. Getting the advice of a lawyer experienced in Alberta family law is the wisest move a client in this position might make. These types of contracts should always be drafted or at least reviewed by experienced lawyers.    

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