Prenuptial and Cohabitation Agreements should be considered in most relationships. Many people make assumptions about how property and income will be dealt with if a relationship ends and are surprised at the information they receive when they obtain legal advice on those issues.
A cohabitation agreement can be entered into to protect your interests if you plan to live with someone but have no current plans to marry. Recent changes to the matrimonial property legislation in Alberta means that property of unmarried partners may be treated in the same way as people who are married. This was previously not the case. Alberta is one of the last provinces to extend matrimonial property legislation to unmarried couples who meet the definition of “Adult Interdependent Partners”.
A prenuptial agreement is an agreement that is entered into in contemplation of marriage. It sets out how all or some of the parties’ property will be divided if the marriage breaks down. It can also address issues of spousal support, how the matrimonial home is dealt with if the marriage ends and other issues that inevitably arise in the context of separation and divorce.
If you are unable to get a prenuptial agreement completed prior to your marriage it is still possible to enter into an agreement after the marriage occurs if both parties are agreeable. This is called a postnuptial agreement.
If you have property or income that you wish to address in some fashion other than what the law may prescribe if the relationship ends, you should consider one of these agreements. These agreements are often a good idea if you are entering a second marriage, if you are living together and want to keep your finances separate or if you expect to inherit significant property in future or have a family business or agricultural property to protect.