A cohabitation agreement is a legal contract between a couple who are living together but are not married. This agreement can outline the rights, responsibilities, and expectations of the couple during the relationship and can also provide protection for both individuals in the case of separation in the future. Keep in mind that in BC, after two years of living together or after having a baby together, couples are deemed to be common law spouses by the Family Law Act of BC. If the relationship dissolves after that point, the law treats it as a separation triggering asset division, just the same as in a legally married situation. Here are five reasons why you might consider getting a cohabitation agreement:
Clarity on Financial Responsibilities:
A cohabitation agreement can outline how financial responsibilities, such as rent, utilities, and other shared expenses, will be divided between you and your partner. This can help prevent any future misunderstandings and conflicts related to financial matters.
Protection of Individual Assets:
If you or your partner bring significant assets into the relationship, a cohabitation agreement can outline how those assets will be distributed, managed, or protected in the event of separation. These agreements are frequently upheld in courts as being a predetermined, fair distribution of these assets.
Like asset protection, a cohabitation agreement can specify how any pre-existing debts or debts acquired during the relationship will be divided upon separation. This can prevent one partner from being unfairly burdened with the other’s debts.
Protection in Case of Death or Disability:
A well-drafted cohabitation agreement can document the couple’s intentions about how assets, property, and financial responsibilities would be handled in the unfortunate event of one partner’s death or incapacitation. These greatly help executors protect the wishes set out in a will if it gets challenged for wills variation after the grant of probate.
Avoiding Legal Disputes:
By establishing clear terms while the relationship is amicable, a cohabitation agreement can help prevent potential legal disputes and disagreements in case of separation, potentially saving both individuals from any emotional turmoil and legal costs associated with family litigation.
To ensure that your cohabitation agreement is legally valid and effective, it is important to consult with an experienced family law lawyer who is familiar with the BC Family Law Act. Every relationship is unique, and a cohabitation agreement can be customized to suit your specific preferences and circumstances but both partners should seek independent legal advice to ensure that the agreement is fair and represents their interests.
If you are entering into a relationship and you want to protect your rights and assets in the event of separation, you need a co-habitation agreement. A will is sometimes not enough. At Westcoast Wills and Estates, we consider cohabitation agreements to be integral parts of some clients’ estate plans. Book in with our experienced family lawyer in Vancouver today.