Marriage Agreements: Do They Help Or Hinder A Marriage?

Some see marriage agreements of any kind, whether they take place before or after the wedding, as a vote of no confidence in the marriage. Sometimes, parents may pressure a young couple to enter into agreements they don't fully understand and simply sign as an act of goodwill.

To the contrary, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can help you clear the air and understand each other's positions when it comes to finances. This is most often the root of a parent's concern as well. Everyone wants the marriage to succeed, and having a solid agreement in place that takes both people's interests into account can accomplish that goal.

At Westside Family Law, we have decades of experience helping Vancouver families have difficult legal conversations. Our lawyers tailor their approach and services to your family's needs and concerns, whether you are headed down the aisle or concerned about your family's legacy.

What To Include In A Prenuptial Agreement

Prenuptial agreements help couples discuss their respective rights and obligations both during the marriage and after if it theoretically ends. In a sense, you are agreeing to something that may never happen: the terms under which you will separate or divorce. Generally, the terms of a prenup will cover:

  • The valuation and division of family property
  • Spousal support obligations
  • Other matters such as preferences for dispute resolution

Why Get A Prenuptial Agreement?

While it is difficult and often stressful to discuss sensitive issues like money and separation while also planning a wedding, it may be a prudent step in many situations. Ironically, disputes about these very same issues are the leading cause of unhappiness in marriage and typically result in divorce. Negotiating fair terms ahead of the wedding ceremony means each party will know with certainty whether they share compatible financial and child-related goals.

Prenuptial agreements can also save money. You can typically avoid costly litigation by deciding on important rights and issues now, while warm feelings and good communication between you and your partner are the norm.

Who Should Have A Prenuptial Agreement?

Generally speaking, prenuptial agreements can work for everyone. Here are a few scenarios where they may be especially important:

  • Second or subsequent marriages — Those who get married a second or third time may have existing legal and financial obligations (such as child and spousal support payments) from a previous marriage. A prenuptial agreement ensures that those obligations are properly distributed and that both your first and second family will benefit fairly from your estate.
  • People who own significant assets or shares in a company — When you get married, your spouse may be entitled to claim one-half interest in the value of your shares in assets or company investments. A prenup will protect your business interests.
  • Homeowners — Couples who live together before marriage often face the issue where one partner has invested more of their wealth into the couple's shared home than the other. A prenuptial agreement can specify an unequal division of the home in favour of the person who contributed the most to it. It can also detail how any increase in value of the home should be divided.
  • Couples with substantial income disparity — A prenuptial agreement will protect your financial interests if you earn significantly more or less income than your soon-to-be spouse.

Helping You Prepare For The Future In A Constructive Way

We know that those who prepare ahead of time can avoid some of the most difficult fights that occur during a divorce or breakup. To discuss your concerns or questions with one of our skilled lawyers, call us at 604-800-8853 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.