More and more couples nationwide, including in British Columbia, choose to live together rather than to get married. In some cases, couples agree to live together until they are ready to get married. Regardless of whether the arrangements are permanent or temporary, considering marital or cohabitation agreements might be worth consideration.
Although both marital and cohabitation agreements serve the same purpose — to protect the separate assets of the two parties — there are differences. A marriage agreement — or prenuptial agreement — could outline the legal relationship of a couple getting married, particularly with relation to their assets. This includes property brought into the marriage and provides direction in the way they intend to handle assets they acquire during the marriage. This is not only for property division in the event of a divorce but also if one party dies.
With there being no legal commitment in cohabitation arrangements, couples may have enough reason to consider similar agreements. Disagreements are par for the course of relationships, but when couples live together, it is easier to pack up and leave. Without the protection of divorce laws to govern property division and other aspects of a split-up, a cohabitation agreement can ensure the fair distribution of assets.
Although protection of personal property may be the primary purpose for signing such agreements, any other guidelines can be included — except child-related agreements, which are typically determined by the court. Couples that are considering marriage or cohabitation agreements may explore their options by consulting with an experienced British Columbia family law lawyer who can provide guidance with the drafting of the agreements, while also ensuring that it will hold up in court in the event of challenges in the future. Legal counsel can also assist when a cohabitating couple decides to get married.
Source: marriage.com, “Prenuptial Agreement vs. Cohabitation Agreement“, April 27, 2017