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Kitchener couples: be ready if a relationship meets its Waterloo

When someone tells you something that sounds too good to be true, and, in fact, that is how it often turns out, a common reaction is to say, "Can I get that in writing?" While the question is usually a good-natured jest, there are times when it really is best to get an agreement written down, get it signed and even get it witnessed.

There is a time in many people's lives when things really do seem too good to be true, and that's when a romantic relationship is in full bloom. Sometimes love can last a lifetime, but there are no guarantees, unfortunately. Whether you are about to marry your love or you are planning to cohabit in a committed relationship, a binding domestic contract or agreement might be a very good idea. 

Protect your rights as an "unmarried spouse" 

Couples preparing to get married, commonly make marriage contracts, or pre-nuptial agreements. Such contracts typically stipulate what each spouse expects of the other should the marriage end. A major reason is to protect certain assets that Ontario family law might otherwise divide. Even without a 'pre-nup,' however, divorce law and family law go a long way toward protecting the rights of each spouse.

Unfortunately, a cohabiting couple that is not legally married does not enjoy the same rights. For example, an unmarried spouse does not automatically receive a share of the family assets. When one partner has a clear economic advantage over the other, this could leave the other partner in a financially difficult position.

Creating a cohabitation agreement and making it legally binding will protect the rights of each partner in the event of a relationship breakdown.

What can we include in a cohabitation agreement?

A cohabitation agreement can cover many of the same areas covered by family law for married couples. Issues you might consider addressing include:

  • How you will divide your property if the relationship ends
  • How much, if any, spousal support you or your partner will pay
  • How to divide any shared debts if the relationship ends

Custody and support of children are not addressable in a cohabitation agreement. Matters pertaining to children must go through the courts or another legal channel such as mediation. 

Make it strong, make it complete, make it binding 

In order to be legally binding and enforceable, each party must enter into the cohabitation agreement willingly and with a full understanding of the content. The partners must sign the contract and have it witnessed by any two adult parties. As for making it strong and complete, just be certain the terms are fair to you, and you've left no grey areas that could lead to a dispute.

The best way to ensure you have the document you need might be to work with a lawyer to get the job done. A lawyer with decades of experience with all aspects of family law and relationships in the Kitchener-Waterloo area can help any man or woman who wants to secure his or her future with a quality cohabitation agreement.

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