Most people have a general understanding of what a prenuptial agreement is. In general it is a contract between a couple who are about to enter into a marriage, which typically governs the rights and obligations of each person should they ultimately divorce.
Agreements of this type are not just limited to parties who are on the cusp of marriage, they are also available to common law couples (often referred to as a “cohabitation agreement”) and couples who are already married (sometimes known as “domestic” or “marriage” contracts”).
Unfortunately, many people only hear of prenuptial agreements in the news, or popular media, when they are mentioned in the context of divorcing celebrities, or the super-rich. However, prenuptial agreements are not just for the ultra-wealthy, they offer a form of protection and certainty for any couple entering into a relationship, regardless of the level of their wealth.
While many people find it odd to sit down with their partner and try to figure out how property should be divided and if support should be paid when their relationship is healthy and strong, the reality is that doing so offers many benefits. Coming to these decisions in a healthy relationship doesn’t presuppose or suggest that one party wants to ultimately split up, but it does allow the parties to make these decisions together while their relationship is friendly, rather than at the end of the relationship when conflict is usually the norm. As a result, because couples negotiate and create prenuptial agreements while their relationship is strong, the agreements are usually fair, jointly made, and agreed upon in an absence of difficult emotions. Additionally, while property that parties bring into a marriage is provided with some protection under the Matrimonial Property Act in Alberta, the reality is that over lengthy marriages, parties typically fail to keep strong records of what each party brought to the marriage. By entering into a prenuptial agreement, your lawyer will require you to document the assets you bring into the marriage and provide you advice on how to protect those assets throughout the marriage.
As a result, prenuptial agreements can go a long way towards reducing conflict and the resulting legal fees at the end of a relationship.
The lawyers at Mincher Koeman Family Law Chambers have significant experience in advising and helping clients prepare prenuptial, cohabitation, and marriage agreements. We appreciate and understand the complexities of both the law and the personal aspects of creating these agreements and have helped many couples to do so.