Ellis Legal Group

Prenuptial & Cohabitation Agreements

Prenuptial & Cohabitation Agreements

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure perfectly describes the benefit of ensuring you are fully protected when getting married or moving into a common-law living arrangement. Depending on your unique circumstances, and especially if there are children and assets involved, it may be beneficial to explore a prenuptial or cohabitation agreement. 

The added benefit is that having conversations with your significant other about finances and your respective expectations has the potential to increase your understanding of each other and strengthen your relationship.

Coming Together on Solid Ground

The decision to marry or move in with a partner is life-changing. While these can be exciting and happy times, there are potential implications related to your property, children and support issues. It is highly advisable to consult with a lawyer prior to making these significant life decisions so you have a clear understanding of any potential issues and make fully informed choices appropriate to your unique situation. 

Not every couple requires a cohabitation or prenuptial agreement but the process of determining if you need one is an important part of your decision to enter a marriage or common-law commitment. Sometimes people are reluctant to even consider such agreements as they feel it’s “bad luck” to contemplate the ending of a relationship at such a happy time in their lives. 

Not only do these agreements address what will occur in the event of separation and divorce, but they can also address your respective intentions should incapacity of either spouse or death occur during the relationship. 

Frank and honest discussions regarding financial issues is a good predictor of compatibility and can strengthen your relationship knowing you are aligned and on the same page about your financial future.

Ellis Legal Group can provide you with all the legal information and advice you need regarding your upcoming marriage or cohabitation and assist you in crafting agreements that address the expectations of you and your partner. 

Creating A Strong Foundation

Prenuptial and cohabitation agreements help protect your assets. While these agreements may be considered ‘unromantic’, at Ellis Legal group, we believe they offer both you and your partner an opportunity to communicate honestly and create a solid foundation upon which to build your life together.

Our approach to preparing prenuptial and cohabitation agreements is like everything else we do - focused on the best needs of our clients, collaboratively and with the utmost transparency. We only ever represent one client but we do encourage both parties to fully collaborate on this process as a prenuptial or cohabitation agreement should fairly reflect their individual interests. 

Taking Control of Your Future

Prenuptial and cohabitation agreements are becoming more commonplace. The decision to marry or live together is generally a happy one and signals that the couple is in a good place in their relationship. 

Clients seeking a prenuptial or cohabitation agreement have, in some cases, already experienced a divorce and are familiar with the challenges faced without this type of agreement in place. They are wiser and less likely to want to risk losing control of their future again. Prenuptial and cohabitation agreements are important for all couples because the process requires you to consider a future together, where anything is possible, and to ensure that you and your partner have the same intentions related to the sharing of assets, support, and even the simple question of whether you will have children. 

The first questions clients typically ask about prenuptial or cohabitation agreements are ‘what are the benefits’ and ‘do I really need one’. Based on their current circumstances, the experienced associates at Ellis Legal Group are able to provide scenarios of what could happen in the event of separation, incapacity or death of their spouse or partner. 

Our primary goal is to educate and advise so that our clients are able to make decisions based on accurate and objective information.

Client-centred Family Law Advocates

Our experienced team of lawyers is dedicated to family and estate law and will provide you with the highest quality legal advice and service available. We ensure you understand all aspects of the law related to your particular matter, explore solutions collaboratively, and are accessible and supportive throughout the process. 

Call us at (403) 879-1635 to book your free consultation today.

Journey to Agreement: Our Process

A prenuptial or cohabitation agreement is typically less complicated than a divorce or separation but there are still steps to be taken to ensure its validity should it ever be challenged. 

  1. Initial consultation: a 30-minute phone consultation, which is free of charge, where you provide us with the details of your situation. We will then explain what a prenuptial or cohabitation agreement is and its benefits so you can make a fully informed decision on whether you would like to move forward. 

  2. In-person consultation: to obtain further information, provide more comprehensive legal advice and discuss specific details that will be used to draft a document for your review and approval. A flat-rate fee is charged for this consultation, which usually takes from 1-2 hours, depending on the complexity of the situation.  This is also an opportunity for each of us to determine if we are a good fit to work together.

  3. Retaining us: if your decision is to move forward with our services, you will sign our retainer agreement outlining the specifics of the role we will be playing in your matter as well as our fee arrangement. We are unable to commence work on your file until we receive your signed retainer agreement and whatever initial retainer funds are required.

  4. Exchange of client disclosure: gathering of required documents and full financial disclosure from both parties is required to ensure we have a full understanding of your circumstances and that a marriage contract is legally enforceable.

  5. Strategy planning: once we have an opportunity to review the disclosure, we are able to advise and develop a strategy for proceeding. If further information is required, we may discuss ways for obtaining that information. When we have determined we have everything we need, we can discuss your entitlements and obligations. 

A prenuptial or cohabitation agreement is prepared in a collaborative format, and we strongly encourage you to collaborate with your partner and his/her lawyer. In this way, both parties are aware and are able to come to a final agreement. Once the document is finalized, copies are provided to both parties. 

There is no way to determine exactly how long a divorce or separation will take as there are other parties involved whose actions are beyond our control. What we do know is that a family law professional whose primary goal is a peaceful resolution whenever possible, can significantly decrease time and cost required.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I need a prenuptial or cohabitation agreement?

A: A prenuptial or cohabitation agreement provides you with some certainty as to the outcome in the event of life changes - separation/divorce, incapacity, or death of either spouse. It allows you and your partner to determine what will happen as it relates to support and property rather than leaving those things up to the courts later.

Q: How long do I have to live with my partner before we are common law? 

A: There is no real legal definition of a "common-law" relationship in Alberta. Under Alberta law, parties living together in a relationship of interdependence become adult interdependent partners (AIP's) if they have a child together, if they live together for at least three years, or if they enter into an AIP agreement. If you are an AIP, you may have rights to property or support in the event of separation. Even if you are not an AIP, you may still have certain rights to property under the common law.

Q: Once we are “common-law” or “AIP’s” are my rights and obligations with respect to support and property different than if I was married?

A: In January of 2020, there was an important change to the law, which determined that married spouses and adult interdependent partners (AIPs) would be treated more or less exactly the same as it relates to both spousal/partner support and division of property. Prior to January of 2020, while AIP’s had a similar entitlement to support as did married spouses, division of property for unmarried AIP’s was dealt with quite differently than for married spouses. Contact us to determine whether or how this change in law might impact you.

Our Practice is Dedicated to Family Law

Our Practice is Dedicated to Family Law

Let us be your greatest asset during times of family transition. Ellis Legal Group takes a client-centered approach by educating our clients on family law, guiding you through a range of legal options, and customizing solutions to meet your unique needs. Being client-centered also means we do everything in a caring and supportive manner and with the utmost professionalism and integrity. Serving Calgary, Okotoks and surrounding areas.

Get Started Today With a Free Consultation

Divorce, separation, entering a marriage or common-law relationship, and planning your estate are significant, and sometimes traumatic, life transitions. Let us provide you with the information and support you need to plan for your best future. 

Call us at (403) 879-1635 and book your free consultation today.

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