Cohabitation and prenuptial (marriage) agreements

In British Columbia, a couple who lives together in a “marriage-like” relationship for a continuous period of two years is considered a “spouse”, and has the same rights as a married couple under the Family Law Act. Lindsay Kenney’s family lawyers are adept at drafting and completing legally sound prenuptial and cohabitation agreements.

Both common-law spouses and married spouses have rights and obligations under the Family Law Act, including the right to a presumptive equal division of family property, which is explained further in the section Divorce and Asset Division, and may be entitled to spousal support.

A cohabitation or prenuptial agreement is a written agreement that sets out how the parties will divide property, determine support, or decide any other issue that may arise upon the termination of the relationship. For example, these agreements can set out that certain property is to remain the separate property of one party, how the parties will arrange their financial affairs and pay expenses during the marriage, whether spousal support will be payable, and if so, how much. A cohabitation or prenuptial agreement is helpful and may save significant legal costs down the road in the event of a relationship breakdown.

Each party to the cohabitation or prenuptial agreement must provide complete financial disclosure to the other party, and obtain independent legal advice on the contents of the agreement, in order to ensure the fairness of the agreement. Agreements which are unfair or which did not have complete financial disclosure are likely to be set aside by the court.