Before you move in with your significant other or before they move in with you to carry on a “marriage-like relationship” (cohabitate), you should take steps to protect your interest in the property you’ve worked hard to build up over the years.
By “property”, we don’t mean just your home, a condo or land. “Property” includes assets of all kinds including savings, investments, RRSPs or stocks, valuable artwork or jewellery.
Whether you are 25 or 65, a cohabitation agreement can give you peace of mind.
You and your partner will not be considered “spouses” under BC family law until you have lived together continuously for 2 years.
You will have time to think about your situation unless you are coming up on that 2 year period. Having said that, do think about whether you would prefer to have an agreement now rather than later when it might be a more difficult conversation to have with your partner.
A cohabitation agreement is a written agreement, signed by both parties before witnesses, and usually with each party having first obtained independent legal advice from their own lawyer.
The agreement will record the parties’ circumstances at the time the agreement is made. For example, it will set out their ages, employment situations and income, their current asset and debt picture, whether they have dependent children or not, and the date the parties either started to cohabitate or intend to cohabitate.
The agreement will also generally deal with whether either party will pay the other financial support should the relationship break down.
Most importantly for many people, it will set out how each party’s property will be treated should the relationship break down.
Frequently, they will agree that whatever property they bring with them into the relationship should remain their own separate property no matter what happens. Often, they will also agree that any increase in value of this property that might occur during the period of the relationship, should also remain their own separate property.
There are a number of other points that will be covered in the agreement to provide you and your spouse with a “road map” to follow should your relationship break down after that all important 2 year anniversary.
For more information and advice about getting a cohabitation agreement tailored to your specific situation, contact us. We can help.
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