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Prenuptials & Marriage Agreements

 

Prenuptials & Marriage Agreements in Calgary

prenuptial & Marriage Agreements in AlbertaIt used to be quite rare for couples to create prenuptial agreements in Calgary.

They were mainly drafted by high-net-worth individuals – often before they entered a second or subsequent marriage, in order to protect the assets that they had brought to the marriage or to protect children from a previous marriage.

However, in recent years, we have seen a greater demand for prenuptial agreements, perhaps as people get married later in life having already accumulated considerable assets.

Jennings Family Law in Calgary can help you and your intended partner draft your marriage agreement so that it is legally enforceable.

What are prenuptial agreements for in Calgary?

Prenuptial agreements or “prenups” are a little like having personal accident insurance: you need to have it in place but hope you never need to use it.

They are available for any couples who intend to get married and who wish to make provisions in case of a relationship breakdown.

If marriage agreements are correctly drawn up by a qualified lawyer, prenups will provide you with a legally binding contract between you and your intended spouse.

Your agreement should clearly detail the rights and obligations of both parties if and when the relationship ends through separation, divorce or death. 

Read More → Prenuptial and Cohabitation Agreements

What are the benefits of a prenuptial agreement?

For many couples, it is preferable to decide on the terms of separation such as division of assets and spousal support payments when it is merely a hypothetical situation. 

When the relationship is healthy, decision-making faculties are unclouded by the emotion that generally results from a relationship breakdown.

That is one of the major benefits of a prenup.

Another major benefit is that it can protect the rights of children from a previous marriage by detailing what would happen to assets in the event of a relationship breakdown.

A prenup also avoids the potentially high legal costs involved in a long, protracted divorce. Disputes about property and children are particularly notorious points of contention in divorce settlements. A prenup generally avoids the prospect of a trial in the family law courts.

The lack of need for a trial also reduces the emotional impact on both spouses and the children from the marriage.

Prenuptial agreements also maintain personal privacy in the event of separation or divorce. A court case will result in the details of the settlement becoming a matter of public record while a prenuptial agreement keeps them private.

Who should have a prenuptial agreement?

Considering a prenuptial agreement may be beneficial if you:

  • Have accumulated significant assets (real estate and other investments) before your marriage
  • Were married before and have children from that marriage
  • Wish to avoid potential disputes if your relationship breakdowns
  • Wish to avoid excessive legal fees in the event of separation and divorce
  • Wish to maintain privacy

What goes into an Alberta prenuptial agreement? 

The prenuptial agreement lawyers at Jennings Family Law will guide you about what to include in your agreement.

In general, couples include the following terms to cover finances:

  • The division of assets that each person brought into the marriage
  • Any specific items of property that are excluded from division
  • The division of any outstanding debts
  • The division of joint assets
  • Who gets the home?
  • Who pays for what during the relationship?

Provisions may also be made for the following:

  • The amount of spousal support payable in the event of separation/divorce
  • The role of step-parents in the marriage
  • The amount of child support payable to children from previous relationships
  • Child custody and access arrangements for children from previous relationships
  • Making educational/moral decisions for your children
  • Other rights and obligations

Note that child custody decisions for children from the present marriage cannot be provided for in advance in a prenuptial agreement. 

This will need to be decided in the best interests of the children in the event of a future marriage breakdown.

What are the other types of marriage agreements in Alberta? 

Prenuptial agreements are the main type of agreement drafted between two intended spouses. However, there are other types of agreements that can be drawn up for two people entering or already in a formal relationship.

These include:

Postnuptial agreements

Postnuptials may cover all of the same terms as a prenuptial agreement but they are created AFTER a couple is already married.

They are far less common than prenups and some married couples are surprised that this option actually exists for them.

Cohabitation agreements

Prenuptial agreements are only available for couples intending to marry. For couples looking for a similar type of agreement but who intend to cohabit or have a common-law relationship, a cohabitation agreement can be drawn up.

Separation/division of property agreements

Separation or division of property agreements are created after the breakdown of a marriage or common-law relationship. They set out how assets and debts are divided and, for many couples, they are the precursor for a divorce agreement.

Read More → Divorce & Separation in Calgary – The least you need to know

Get assistance with your prenuptial agreement

A marriage agreement that is not legally enforceable is essentially useless. 

Jennings Family Law creates legally binding prenuptials and other marriage agreements to ensure that your intentions are carried out.

If you have already created an agreement, we can review it and if you wish to challenge an existing agreement, we can also assist.

Call (403) 316-0138 or email warren@jenningsfamilylaw.com

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