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What you need to know about separation agreements, prenups, postnups and cohabitation agreements

Anyone who has decided to get married or is about to enter into a living arrangement with another person, needs to recognize that the relationship could end.  At that point, the two parties will likely not be on the best terms and, as a result, it may be difficult to reach agreement on key issues such as property division and child custody.  Handling the same issues before you get married is always easier because you are on good terms with your partner and in that atmosphere it is possible to reach agreement on even the most difficult issues.

Your final decisions are documented in a legally binding document called a Prenuptial Agreement, also known as a Prenup.   To protect your interests, a Prenup should always be drafted with the help of an experienced Family Law Attorney.  Individuals who choose to live together - but not get married - can take the same step by drafting and signing what's known as a Cohabitation Agreement.

Prenuptial versus Postnuptial agreements

A Postnuptial Agreement is the same as a Prenuptial Agreement in every way except one - it is completed after you get married.  You also need to know that the signing of a Postnuptial Agreement involves the giving up of some rights you acquired when you became married.  Typical issues addressed in Postnuptial Agreements include protection of financial assets, ownership of a home or business, career considerations and children from a former relationship.

Why a Separation Agreement makes the divorce process simpler and less expensive

While the signing of prenuptial and cohabitation agreements are becoming more common, many couples that decide to divorce don't have them.   But this does not mean that the former partners have to go through a contentious and expensive divorce process.  They can opt instead to draft and sign a Separation Agreement that covers the same key subjects addressed in a Prenuptial or Cohabitation Agreement.  Both parties should have the assistance of a Family Law lawyer, a necessary step to ensure each party's interests are protected  and, equally important, that all the terms of the Separation Agreement are enforceable and will be recognized by the Courts.

Photo of a couple signing a legal agreement

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If you have recently separated from your spouse, we strongly recommend that you seek out an Edmonton divorce lawyer for a consultation. It is important to get early advice (even before attending mediation if you and your spouse agree to go to mediation) regarding your rights and responsibilities.

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