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Cohabitation Agreements

Do you want to know what marriage and cohabitation agreements are?

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What is a cohabitation agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is a written agreement entered into between two opposite, or same-sex partners who are choosing to live together but not marry.

Unmarried BC couples who are in a marriage-like (common law or ‘cohabitation’) relationship who have lived together for more than two years are subject to the same family laws, rights, and obligations as a legally married couple.

When should a cohabitation agreement be used?

A cohabitation agreement should be completed before a couple moves in together, but definitely before they reach the two-year anniversary of living together in BC.

Having this agreement will outline how things will be divided if there is a separation. This can include family property, debts, and spousal support. It may also cover what will happen during the relationship, such as how debt will be managed and how household expenses will be covered.

How does a cohabitation agreement provide certainty if my relationship ends?

A cohabitation agreement is a contract that is binding in a court of law. The agreement clearly outlines how assets will be divided, making a separation more certain regarding family property and assets.

There are situations when a court can overturn a marriage or cohabitation agreement if a party took advantage, behaved unfairly or failed to disclose significant property or debts. If an agreement was signed under pressure a day or two before a wedding, it may not be enforceable.

A judge will look at fairness over equality. A key way to achieve fairness is to have each party obtain independent legal advice before signing the agreement.

How much do cohabitation agreements cost?

Cohabitation agreements are as unique as each couple. The amount of time required to draft the agreement will depend upon the complexities of your employment scenarios, your family property, assets, trusts, business holdings and investment portfolios; and if children are part of the equation.

Investing in a legally solid co-hab agreement may save you thousands of dollars down the road if your relationship ends after more than two years, whereas at that point your separation will be governed by the same rules as a legally married couple. Herr Law Group recommends a 30-60 minute consultation to review your personalized requirements. An overall cost evaluation will also be discussed.

What happens to our cohabitation agreement if we marry?

With a cohabitation agreement, you’ve already taken a major step towards solidifying lines of communication and expectations with your partner.

This is a contract and can only be changed if both parties agree. This is called an addendum, or an amending agreement. If you marry, the cohabitation agreement may remain in place “as is” if the terms specifically contemplated the possibility of marriage down the road, or the agreement may be updated by amendment if the marriage itself constitutes a significant change in your personal circumstances and you wish to ensure that the agreement continues to have the same reliability and enforceability.

For more information, or a consultation, please contact us.


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