When a relationship, whether a marriage or a common-law partnership, breaks down, working together to resolve issues such as the division of property, spousal and child support, decision-making responsibility and parenting time, if applicable, can become complicated. If a couple can come to terms regarding each party’s rights and obligations, this is ideal. It can allow for a quick and efficient resolution that takes everyone’s concerns into account and saves a considerable amount of time and expense. This process requires an ability to negotiate fairly, whether directly or through legal counsel, as well as transparency regarding financial and other assets.
Ideally, a couple will set out their expectations and goals with respect to these matters at the start of a relationship, with a cohabitation or marriage agreement. While nobody likes to contemplate the end of a relationship when it’s just beginning, this is the best time to create an agreement since everyone is on good terms and the financial and emotional pressures that come along with a breakup are not present. Making an agreement is not a plan for the inevitable; it is merely a responsible step to take that can lead to a significant reduction in stress down the road, should the relationship end.
At Mincher Koeman, our family lawyers are exceedingly experienced in assisting clients with finding the simplest and most economical route, whether drafting a separation agreement, or a cohabitation or marriage agreement. We have even developed a process that allows clients who are able to work together to draft their own agreement with minimal lawyer intervention until the agreement is complete and ready to be signed. This keeps costs down and minimizes outside intervention in situations where it is not necessary. We will always advise clients on the most practical, efficient and cost-effective method to resolve their matter, and are always searching for ways to save clients time and money.
A separation agreement is a contract between two spouses or common-law partners upon the breakdown of a relationship, setting out each party’s rights and obligations. It’s a good option when there is little or no conflict between the parties and there is general agreement on the big issues, such as decision-making responsibility and parenting time (formerly known as custody and access).
Get legal advice from an experienced family law lawyer before signing a separation agreement. This is vital because an improperly drafted separation agreement may be rejected by a court for the following reasons:
Don’t rely on a template separation agreement. There is too much at stake and the consequences of a single error or omission can be severe. Moreover, most template separation agreements are not even legally binding.
You can amend or end a separation agreement at any time. But once again, it’s best to get legal advice before you make any significant changes.
A cohabitation agreement is often referred to as a ‘prenup’ or ‘prenuptial agreement’. Essentially, these agreements set out the terms a couple has agreed to should their relationship eventually break down. The following issues can and should be addressed in a cohabitation or marriage agreement:
A cohabitation can also be created and executed between a couple who is married; in this case, it would simply be called a ‘marriage agreement’, but the contents would be similar. Courts are reluctant to deviate from a properly executed agreement if requested, so it is important to have sound legal advice before signing an agreement of this nature. As with a separation agreement, cohabitation or marriage agreements can be amended as necessary, but it is always advisable to consult with a knowledgeable family lawyer to ensure that any changes made are done properly so as not to affect the legal validity of the agreement.
Mincher Koeman has assisted countless clients with the negotiation and creation of a separation agreement at the end of a relationship, as well as drafted numerous cohabitation and marriage agreements. Whether you are working out the details with a partner after a split or putting a plan in place as a precautionary measure, we will advise you of your rights and responsibilities and ensure that your interests are protected. Please contact our office to make an appointment to discuss your matter with one of our lawyers today by calling us at 403-910-3000 or contacting us online.
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