Making written agreements is a good way to prevent additional stress and conflict regarding your property, savings and debts in the case of a potential break down of your relationship.
These documents can be called cohabitation agreements, marriage agreements or separation agreements depending on your particular circumstances.
The Family Law Act (FLA), the new legislation governing family law in British Columbia, refers to all of these commonly used terms simply as “agreements.”
You can make an agreement at any of the following times:
- When you start living together
- Before your marriage
- During your marriage
- After you separate
In order to draft an agreement that is legally binding, you and your spouse must share all relevant financial information with each other, including income information, income tax returns, and financial statements.
If your agreement is not fair or you do not disclose all financial information, the court could declare your agreement invalid.
Your agreement may cover many things including but not limited to the following:
- Who owns which assets (some may be joint assets)
- Who will own future assets acquired during your relationship
- Whether you will have joint or separate credit cards or bank accounts
- Who is currently responsible for paying debts
- How you will divide family property (such as real estate, possessions and pensions) if you separate
- How you will divide family debt if you separate
- How you will handle spousal support payments if you separate
- How you would like to resolve disagreements if you separate (for example agreeing to go to mediation)
It's important to note that you may only make written agreements regarding decisions relating to your children after you separate -- in a separation agreement.
A lawyer can help you draft an appropriate agreement for your circumstances, ensuring that it meets all legal requirements of the FLA.
Please call our law office if you'd like help creating an effective written agreement.