Forward-Thinking Family Law Lawyers Representing Clients During the Negotiation, Drafting and Enforcement of Cohabitation Agreements
In Ontario, the law permits unmarried persons who are cohabiting to enter into contracts that specifically provide for what rights and obligations they will have as a result of their relationship. Unmarried couples may choose to enter into a cohabitation agreement for the protection of both parties. A cohabitation agreement can help prevent litigation and extra costs in the event of the breakdown of the relationship.
What are the Benefits of a Cohabitation Agreement?
As revealed in the latest census figures, the number of common law relationships in Canada continues to surge, and we will undoubtedly see a corresponding increase in the number of couples opting for a formalized cohabitation agreement.
This is significant since couples who live together, but are not married, are not included in the section of Ontario’s Family Law Act which states that property accumulated during the marriage must be equalized. In some circumstances, an equalization claim can be pursued by unmarried parties through the common law trust doctrines and through claims focusing on unjust enrichment. Common law partners may be entitled to spousal support and child support in the case of the dissolution of the relationship. However, a cohabitation agreement is one of the best ways for an unmarried couple to ensure in advance the fair division of property in the event of separation.
What is Included in a Cohabitation Agreement?
Characteristics of a Cohabitation Agreement
- A cohabitation agreement is between two people who are cohabiting or intending to cohabit.
- Common-law spouses can use it.
- It’s not the same as a prenuptial agreement.
Characteristics of a Marriage Contract
- A marriage contract is between two people who are already married or intending to marry each other.
- It applies to legally married couples and not to common-law spouses or unmarried couples who are living together.
- Prenuptial agreements can turn into marriage contracts once the parties get married to each other.
The terms of a cohabitation agreement provide assurances to each party on matters such as:
- rights to share in the other’s property;
- support obligations to each other; and
- entitlement to share in the other’s estate on death.
It’s important to note that a cohabitation agreement can turn into a marriage contract, and continue to be valid, if the parties marry at some point in the future.
If You Are In A Common Law Relationship, contact Our Family Law Lawyers for assistance in drafting Cohabitation Agreements
Contact Gelman & Associates today to learn how our forward-thinking family law lawyers can protect your rights and assets in the negotiation, drafting and enforcement of cohabitation agreements. With six offices conveniently located throughout Aurora, Barrie, Downtown Toronto, Mississauga North York and Scarborough, we are easily accessible by transit and off-highway. Call us at (416) 736-0200 or 1-844-736-0200 or contact us online for a confidential initial consultation.
Cohabitation agreements are legally binding contracts, provided that they are drafted and executed properly, and are signed as a deed. It is therefore essential to obtain legal advice before preparing an agreement.
The things you will need to think about for your Cohabitation Agreement include the property you owned before you moved in together, property you acquire after you move in together, household expenses, Inheritance and Wills, and children.
Although it is possible to write your own cohabitation agreement, it is best to contact a lawyer to make sure that your agreement properly protects your interests and is legally binding. The agreement will also be stronger if you and your spouse each talk to different lawyers before signing the agreement.