Contracts are at the heart of every area of law, and family law is no exception. Whether you are creating a contract at the beginning or end of your relationship, it needs to be clear and consistent, straightforward, thorough and flexible.
Every negotiated separation must result in a separation agreement. In it, you must define exactly how you will interact with respect to your children, your property, and spousal support or any other matters that need to be settled before you can move forward.
While many people simply want to move on and “get it over with,” your separation agreement is too important to your future to be drafted with anything less than the utmost attention to detail. You need to be aware of your rights and obligations, and always keep in mind that your separation agreement will have a significant influence on your success after your marriage.
Cohabitation Agreements And Marriage Contracts
Much of our family law work happens at the end of relationships, but increasingly clients are coming to family lawyers for help at the beginning of a marriage or common-law relationship.
These clients want our help to draft cohabitation and marriage agreements, often called prenuptial agreements. These agreements deal with many of the same issues as separation agreements, but are drafted when couples are in a positive frame of mind and are able to be fair and reasonable.
When to Consider entering a Domestic Contract
Since there is no legal framework to divide property between common-law spouses, if it is your intention to have this option, you need to provide for it in a Cohabitation Agreement. It will also be essential to grant a non-owner spouse the right to reside in the home ordinarily occupied by the spouses during the relationship.
If you wish to protect your small business, family business, or other endeavour from being divided as property, or from equitable claims to an interest in the business, a Cohabitation Agreement or Marriage Contract is a must
If one spouse enters the marriage with a matrimonial home, they may wish to get credit for the value of the home they brought into the marriage, like any other asset. A Marriage Contract can provide for that, failing which the full value will be included in the property division upon separation, which can seem unfair.
A Principled Approach
As we help you draft your cohabitation/marriage contracts, we keep two important matters in mind:
- Fairness: This is a binding contract. You are encouraged to be fair to one another, but this does not mean that either of you should agree to a prenuptial agreement that is unfair to you, or sign away your rights on the assumption that it’s just a formality that will never be used.
- Enforceability: You will not be able to decide matters like custody or child support in a prenuptial contract. You should also be aware that some parts of your agreement may not be enforceable in certain limited circumstances.
Brown Law Firm can help you negotiate and draft a family law agreement that fits your family’s unique needs.