Prenuptials & Marriage Agreements

 

Prenuptials & Marriage Agreements in Victoria, BC

Marriage Agreement Family Lawyers in Victoria, BCMarriage agreements can cover a broad range of issues for married couples, helping to clarify what happens before, during, and after marriage.

While “prenuptial agreements” or “prenups” can help a couple get on the same page about how their marriage is structured while they are together, a different type of agreement is required when a marriage ends.

If you create these agreements upfront, it may help prevent disputes and conflict and reduce the likelihood of you ending up in an adversarial process in court.

To be effective, however, marriage agreements need to be drafted correctly with full knowledge of BC laws so that they are legally enforceable.

The experienced family lawyers at Jennings Family Law in Victoria, BC, can help you enter or leave a marriage with greater peace of mind with agreements that are fair to both parties and legally binding.

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What are the different types of marriage agreements in BC?

Victoria, BC Marriage Agreement Lawyers

The Family Law Act of BC recognizes several different agreements concerning when a relationship begins, after it has already started, or when it ends.

These include:

As you can see, so-called marriage agreements can be created between partners who are not married – but live in a cohabitation arrangement.

Regardless, to be valid, the agreement must be in writing, signed, and witnessed by at least one person.

A valid agreement can go a long way to preventing costly and time-consuming disputes before, during or after marriage. It can protect assets and avoid legal costs because all key matters are pre-agreed.

Be warned that many marriage agreements are successfully challenged in court because they are deemed unfair or were made without full disclosure of the facts: a good reason to seek legal advice before making your agreement and to get it drafted by a competent family lawyer who is aware of the relevant laws.

What can a BC marriage agreement help you achieve?

There are many objectives of marital agreements. To achieve all of the following objectives you may need more than one type of agreement drafted:

  • Prevent high legal costs: marriage agreements can state that court proceedings that go against the agreement will be dismissed or the challenging spouse would have to cover all legal costs if proceedings are begun.
  • Set out key financial guidelines for the marriage:in the agreement, financial affairs and responsibilities in the marriage can be outlined, with instructions on how money can be spent and saved – and who is responsible for certain debts incurred during the marriage.
  • Decide how property will be divided upon separation: you and your spouse can agree on what constitutes marital property and separately-owned property in your marriage agreement.
  • Decide whether spousal support should be payable – and how much: you and your spouse can decide not to include spousal support if you separate – or to limit it to a certain amount if you separate.
  • Decide what happens after death: your marriage agreement can protect property intended for heirs besides your spouse by specifying which property is intended for which heir.
  • Make child support and custody decisions: while marriage agreements can include provisions for child custody and child support, they will not be approved by the BC courts unless they are found to be in the best interests of the children concerned. The agreements can, however, help to document your intentions for parenting the children.

Divorces are notoriously expensive and become extremely bitter and protracted.

Marriage agreements are a type of “insurance policy” against that, attempting to prevent the legal costs and stress associated with separation by addressing many of the major issues concerning finances and the care of the children well beforehand.

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How effective are BC marital agreements?

Unless your agreement follows the tenets of BC family law, it may not be enforceable in court – and therefore will not be effective. It could be set aside or cancelled by the court.

So, it is very important that you:

  • Get independent legal advice before drawing up your agreement
  • Ensure that no duress or pressure is used in creating the agreement
  • Include full financial disclosure
  • Avoid “significantly unfair” provisions in your agreement
  • Review and update your agreement regularly

Note that a marriage agreement from 25 years ago that has never been reviewed might not be enforceable if circumstances have changed substantially.

If the marriage agreement lawyers at Jennings Family Law draft your marital agreement(s), you will not need to concern yourself with enforceability. We are well accustomed to the requirements of legally binding agreements.

Why consider a prenuptial agreement?

Prenuptial agreements have become more commonplace in BC as couples get married later in life having already accrued significant assets.

There are several good reasons to consider a prenuptial agreement if you are considering getting married in BC.

You can set clear marital expectations

A prenup can help you set expectations for both you and your spouse at the beginning of the marriage. This makes it less likely that misunderstandings or disputes will develop should the marriage hit problems.

Greater flexibility and control

Many prenuptial agreements are similar to what the law would entitle you to anyway but you have greater flexibility to shape the agreement to how it suits you both. Providing you are both in agreement and there is full disclosure, it can be a good option for couples who want to make their own decisions, especially about property division and the children.

Prenuptial agreements are like insurance

You have car insurance because there is s chance of having an accident. Similarly, when you marry, there is a chance you will separate. A prenuptial agreement is your insurance policy in case this happens.

It simplifies the divorce process

A divorce can get very messy. Most take months, some take more up to a year and, in the worst-case scenarios, over a year. A prenuptial agreement that addresses the key issues in separation, such as property division, spousal support, child custody and parenting, etc. helps speed up the process of creating a workable separation agreement.

You will learn more about your rights under BC family law

As part of the process of preparing a valid prenuptial agreement, you will need to meet with a marriage agreement lawyer, discuss what you are entitled to under BC law, and ensure that you understand your options. This not only increases the likelihood that you will get a fair deal – it helps you understand more about BC laws concerning separation and divorce.

Get help with marriage agreements in Victoria

At Jennings Family Law, our family lawyers are adept at creating legally enforceable marriage agreements that protect you and your assets before, during and after marriage.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

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