No one wants to think that his or her relationship may someday end. However, in what's now often said to be more than 50 percent of cases, marriages and common-law marriages alike simply don't last "until death do you part."
A domestic contract — that is, a prenuptial, cohabitation, or marriage agreement — is one way to ensure that if a relationship ends, both parties’ interests and rights are protected. Domestic contracts are usually negotiated before marriage or cohabitation begins, but can be done subsequent to marriage or cohabitation.
If a domestic agreement is something that interests you or your partner, be sure to breach the issue in a sensitive manner. The idea of a domestic contract can come as quite a surprise to some people; some might even feel that if their partner is asking them to sign an agreement, their partner doesn't fully trust them or may even be trying to hide something from them.
If you are yourself concerned about signing an agreement, or if you’d like to convince your partner to do so, there are a few things you should know.
A domestic contract helps to sort out potential issues before they arise: Who will get the china? How will child custody, access, and support work? How will joint property be divided? Most of this can be worked out before the split in a domestic contract, but laws for some of these things can vary by province. Further information can be found in lawyer and author Alison Sawyer's book, If You Love Me, Put It In Writing.
Whether you are the person initiating the discussion or not, the important thing to note is that a prenuptial or cohabitation agreement is meant to protect both parties involved. An agreement will not be held up in a court of law if it stipulates anything illegal, or if it unfairly benefits one party over the other; it should be written so that if a relationship ends, both parties will walk away with a fair deal.
Alison Sawyer is the author of If You Love Me, Put It In Writing
, which contains samples and blank, ready-to-be-filled-in cohabitation/prenuptial agreements for both heterosexual and same-sex couples, and jointly- and separately-acquired asset agreements.
The book contains step-by-step instructions to creating a fair and legal agreement with your partner.
It is available now in our Web store