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Cohabitation Agreements


Common law spouses have more rights in Canada than they do south of the border in the United States.  Since couples who have not legally formalized their marriage do not need the court’s permission to separate, the court also does not intervene in decisions about dividing their property; there is no marital property without a legally solemnized marriage.  Many common law couples divide their property by signing a legal separation agreement when they break up.  What if this is the problem you are trying to avoid.  You and your partner chose not to get legally married because you don’t want your relationship to end in divorce.  What if signing an agreement at the beginning of your domestic partnership could prevent conflicts that might threaten the stability of your relationship?  Signing a cohabitation agreement can help prevent the breakup of your domestic partnership in much the way that signing a prenuptial agreement can help prevent divorce.  For help drafting, reviewing, enforcing, or amending a cohabitation agreement, contact a Mississauga family lawyer.

How and Why to Draft a Cohabitation Agreement

Domestic partners often sign cohabitation agreements to formalize their decisions about division of property and debt obligations in the event of a breakup.  You do not need to involve the court in your breakup as long as both parties abide by the agreement.  If one party breaches the agreement, though, you have recourse to the courts to rule on your dispute arising from the agreement.  Your agreement is not legally binding until you attach financial disclosures to it, so you can show the court that you were being truthful about your financial situation at the time you signed.  The law does not require you to hire a lawyer as a prerequisite to signing a cohabitation agreement, but it is a good idea to have a lawyer help you draft your agreement, because doing so increases the chances that a judge will interpret the agreement in the way that you meant it.

When a Cohabitation Agreement Becomes a Prenup

Sometimes couples sign cohabitation agreements when they move in together, but they later get married.  If you get married without amending your cohabitation agreement, the court will treat it as a prenuptial agreement.  In other words, if the couple gets married and then divorced, the cohabitation agreement that they signed before their marriage serves as the court’s guideline for dividing the couple’s property.  If things have changed since you signed your cohabitation agreement, and now you are planning to marry your partner, you should sign a prenup and specifically state that it voids your previous cohabitation agreement.  A family lawyer can help you do this in a way that avoids any ambiguities with your new prenup.

Contact Zagazeta Garcia LLP About Cohabitation Agreements

A family lawyer can help you and your partner prevent conflicts over finances by signing or modifying a cohabitation agreement, whether or not you decide to get legally married.  Contact Zagazeta Garcia LLP in Mississauga, Ontario to discuss your case.

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