Agreements For Those Who Wish To Remain Unmarried

Many family law issues relevant to divorce also apply to common law spouses. Putting your concerns and decisions into a cohabitation agreement can help you avoid the stress and expense of a Court battle should the magic end.

At Westside Family Law, we offer comprehensive family law services for families — including those where marriage was never in the picture. Whether you have been together for a year or 20 years, our lawyers will place your needs and goals at the heart of our counsel on cohabitation agreements.

What Is A Cohabitation Agreement?

Similar to a marriage or prenuptial agreement, a cohabitation agreement is a contract between you and your partner. It dictates how you will divide up assets or property and deal with financial support of each other if you ever separate. You could also include decisions about how to resolve disputes should they come up, like agreeing to use mediation.

Note that you cannot include decisions about how you will handle parenting time and child support if you separate. These issues must be discussed if and when you separate as part of your separation agreement and parenting plan. Agreements related to your (hypothetical) children made prior to separation can and most likely will be set aside by the Court.

Why Get A Cohabitation Agreement?

Couples enter into cohabitation agreements for different reasons. In most cases, one or both people wish to protect assets, property or items of sentimental value they accumulated before the relationship. This doesn't mean they lack faith in the relationship. To the contrary, many just want to clear the air before taking the next step in pooling income and acquiring assets together, like a new home. You might also just wish to prevent any potential hassles and the expensive and troublesome litigation that go with them.

In fact, there are as many different agreements as there are couples, because each couple will have different needs and expectations when it comes to the relationship.

Who Should Get A Cohabitation Agreement?

Generally speaking, cohabitation agreements work best for those who live together and want finances, property and stepchildren issues sorted out in advance of marriage or becoming a common law couple. Under BC's family laws, those who live in a "marriage-like" relationship (cohabit) for at least two years will be considered similar to married couples should they separate. This generally means an equal division of family assets and debt. It could also mean providing financial support for your ex in certain situations.

Some may lament categorization as a "married" person, but the law seeks to ensure that each person who contributed to the relationship leaves it on equal footing. Thus, cohabitation agreements help couples set the parameters for division and support well before these issues come up. Talking about them now while you are reasonably objective and committed to working together in good faith is much easier, faster and less expensive than attempting to come to an agreement post-separation.

Helping You Make Sound Decisions Now So You Don't Have To Later

We invite you to contact our Vancouver family law office by calling 604-800-8853 or by email to schedule an appointment.