Marriage is a passionate adventure that unites two people. As with any major life event, preparation and knowledge are key. Prenuptial agreements, often known as marriage agreements, set out a couple’s marital arrangements, as preparing for marriage requires them to protect each partner’s financial interests and rights.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll go through the various reasons why couples get into prenuptial agreements, some common scenarios in which such agreements are unfair, and the key elements of these agreements.
What Are Marriage Agreements?
Marriage agreements are legal documents that outline the terms and conditions of a couple’s marriage. They can be entered into before or during the marriage and can address various issues, such as how assets will be divided in the event of a divorce or separation, spousal support, child support, and debt allocation.
In British Columbia, marriage agreements fall under the Family Law Act, which governs family law matters in the province. According to this act, a marriage agreement is a contract between two people who are contemplating marriage, are already married, or have lived together in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years.
The Different Purposes of Marriage Agreements
Marriage agreements can serve several purposes, depending on the couple’s circumstances. Here are some of the most common reasons why couples may agree to certain conditions:
a) Assets Division
One of the most common reasons that couples enter into marriage agreements is to determine how their assets will be divided in the event of a separation or divorce. This can include property, investments, and other possessions that the couple has acquired during their marriage.
b) Child Support
Marriage agreements can also address child support payments. They can outline how much each partner will be responsible for paying in child support and how long the payments will last.
c) Debt Allocation
Another purpose of marriage agreements is to allocate debt between the partners. This can include loans, credit card debt, and other financial obligations that the couple has incurred.
d) Estate Division
Marriage agreements can also address estate division. They can outline how each partner’s estate will be divided in the event of their death.
e) Spousal Support
Finally, marriage agreements can address spousal support payments. They can outline how much each partner will be responsible for paying in spousal support and how long the payments will last.
Examples of Unfairness in Marriage Agreements
While marriage agreements can be essential for protecting each partner’s financial interests and rights, they can also be unfair in some cases. Some examples of unfairness in marriage agreements are:
- Lack of full financial disclosure
- Lack of independent legal advice
- Lack of proper negotiations
The Main Components of Prenuptial Agreements
Now that we have discussed the different purposes of marriage agreements and examples of unfairness, let’s explore the main components of prenuptial agreements. Below are just a few main examples:
a) Full Financial Disclosure
Both partners should provide full financial disclosure to ensure that the agreement is fair and equitable. This includes disclosing all assets, debts, and other financial obligations.
b) Independent Legal Advice
Each partner should obtain independent legal advice before signing the agreement. This can help ensure that each partner understands the terms of the agreement and is making an informed decision.
c) Lack of Pressure
Both partners should sign the agreement voluntarily and without any pressure or coercion from the other partner. If one partner is pressuring the other to sign the agreement, it can result in an unfair agreement.
d) Legal Compliance
The agreement must comply with British Columbia’s Family Law Act and other relevant laws. It should also be in writing and signed by both partners.
e) Proper Negotiations
The agreement should be the result of a negotiation between both partners. Both should have an opportunity to discuss their concerns and negotiate the terms of the agreement.
Marriage agreements are an essential part of preparing for marriage in British Columbia. They can help protect each partner’s financial interests and rights and ensure the marriage is entered into with transparency and fairness. If you are considering getting married, it is crucial to understand what marriage agreements are and how they work. By following the guidelines outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can ensure that your agreement is fair, equitable, and legally compliant.
If you are looking for legal practitioners who specialize in marriage agreements in the Fraser Valley, look no further than our services here at Dreyer & Associates. We have a diverse array of experience across family law, wills and estates, and residential conveyancing; although, family law continues to be our focus, and we are committed to preserving the best interests of families across the Fraser Valley and the Lower Mainland. Call us today, and let us tend to your marriage agreement in no time!