How Marriage Agreements Affect Division Of Property

The often quoted phrase, "What's mine is yours" accurately describes how British Columbia's family laws work in terms of the division of property. Those who seek the protection of a marriage agreement, sometimes called a prenuptial agreement, typically do so to avoid this maxim. However, they may be surprised at how quickly such agreements can be set aside if they were not properly executed initially.

Because we provide comprehensive family law services, we at Westside Family Law understand the advantages and limitations of marriage agreements in bringing about desired outcomes. From our office in Vancouver, we have helped families across the Lower Mainland both create sound agreements and manage their effects during divorce or separation.

Reasons A Prenuptial Agreement May Be Set Aside

Marriage contracts are common in second or third marriages or relationships where at least one spouse brings significant wealth to the partnership. In some cases, soon-to-be spouses were pressured into signing an agreement by their partner's family members, who perhaps saw the match as risky. In any case, a signed domestic agreement may not automatically be upheld when it comes to property division.

BC family laws use a standard of "fairness" when determining how to split family assets. Normally, the law presumes half the assets in the relationship will go to each person. In questioning the validity of a marriage agreement, it looks at factors such as:

  • The length of the marriage
  • How long the couple has lived separate and apart
  • Each spouse's financial stability and actual need
  • The fairness of the agreement
  • Whether one spouse signed the agreement under duress or pressure from his or her spouse or in-laws

These and other factors are precisely why it is crucial to have experienced representation on your side. While the Court wishes to uphold agreements made between individuals (and case law bears this out), it must balance that desire with each spouse's individual ability to move forward independently. Thus, you want an advocate who can demonstrate how your original agreement does or does not help you do this.

Finding A Resolution When Your Marriage Agreement Is Questioned

Our lawyers are well-versed in working out family agreements that both preserve your rights and conform to the law. We are never averse to taking the matter to the Court if it is in your best interests to do so, and we'll keep you apprised of the situation at every step.

To discuss your unique circumstances with us, we invite you to schedule an appointment by calling 604-800-8853 or by sending us an email.