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Cohabitation Agreements in British Columbia

Posted by Joanne Martin | Oct 05, 2022

What is a cohabitation agreement?

A cohabitation agreement (for common-law couples) or marriage agreement (for legally married couples) is simply a contract between two people who are living together already or are planning to live together or marry.

What is a cohabitation agreement for?

A cohabitation or marriage agreement is often used to protect the property each party brings into the relationship, should the relationship end. It can also set out your intentions for how you and your spouse are going to arrange your finances and affairs while you live together and whether spousal support would be paid if the relationship ended.

In British Columbia, parties are spouses once they legally marry, or upon living together in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years. Unless spouses agree otherwise, upon separation each spouse has a right to an undivided half interest in all “family property” and is equally responsible for all “family debt”. A cohabitation agreement can allow you to contract out of dividing your property and can allow you to keep what you brought into the relationship and any increase in value. You can also stipulate that you will not be responsible for each other's debts.

Who should have a cohabitation agreement?

These agreements aren't just for the wealthy! If you are bringing property or assets into the relationship, or if either party has children from a previous relationship, a cohabitation agreement can help you clarify and set out your respective expectations. They can be a useful tool for any couple wanting to agree upfront how property and other financial issues will be resolved should the relationship end.

What does a cohabitation agreement cost?

At Align Family Law, we believe in price transparency. After our initial meeting, we provide a quote so you know exactly what your cohabitation agreement will cost and what it will include. Our cohabitation agreement packages range between $2,000 and $2,500 plus taxes, based on the complexity of the issues.

What do Align Family Law cohabitation agreement packages include?

  • One meeting with the client to discuss all of the topics that need to be covered in the agreement, legal advice regarding enforcement of cohabitation/marriage agreements, and obtaining the client's instructions on the contents of the agreement;
  • Drafting the agreement after receiving any necessary documents from the client;
  • Reviewing the full draft agreement with the client once and making any necessary changes;
  • Providing the draft agreement to the client.

Our packages do not include negotiating changes with the opposing party or the opposing party's lawyer or preparing or exchanging significant financial disclosure. These steps will require a full-service retainer and will be charged at our regular rate of $325/hour.

British Columbia has specific requirements for a cohabitation or marriage agreement to be enforceable. If you are interested in learning more about marriage agreements or cohabitation agreements in British Columbia, click the button below to schedule your free consultation today.

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