Family Law Agreements
Family law agreements are written agreements signed by all parties and specify each parties’ rights and obligations. The agreements should be drafted in plain and concise language and both parties must provide full and frank financial disclosure. It is often highly recommended to obtain independent legal advice on your family law agreements.
What are different types of family law agreements?
In broad terms, there are three types of family law agreements under the BC Family Law Act:
- Marriage Agreements, often referred to as prenuptial agreements
- Separation Agreements; and
- Reproduction Agreements
What is a marriage/prenuptial agreement?
In BC, even without getting married, your property could be divided under the Family Law Act, if you have been in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years. You may also have obligation to pay or be entitled to receive support. So, if you are staring a new relationship or intending to marry, a marriage agreement, or prenuptial agreement, ensures your property is protected, that you are not responsible for the other person’s debt, and crystallizes your support obligations, if any.
We recommend that anyone intending to marry or live in a marriage-like relationship seek to arrange their finances in an agreed way in the event of the breakdown of their relationship – use the power to determine how your property will be separated.
Under the Family Law Act, a marriage agreement can address property division and spousal support.
What is a separation agreement?
Ideally, when you separate, will have a separation agreement in place shortly after you separate. It is always best when you and your former spouse know how to move forward in your lives after separation and you can crystallize your intention in writing. Having a separation agreement drafted by a lawyer is also much cheaper than litigating your issues in court, which is both emotionally draining and financially exhausting.
Separation agreements generally address:
- Property and debt division
- Child support and spousal support
- Parenting arrangements such as parenting time, guardianship, allocation of parental responsibilities, custody, and access
What is a Reproduction Agreement?
If you are considering to become a surrogate, a sperm donor, or to use surrogacy, or assisted reproduction technology (“ART”), you need to have proper agreements in place before the child is conceived to protect your rights and other parties’ involved in the process. In some cases you may also need to have an agreement in place after the child is born but this is generally in addition to the preconception agreements.
The timing of the agreements in these cases are paramount. Contact us well in advance in order to have your agreements in place in time.
Do I need a lawyer to draft family law agreement?
We highly recommend that you hire a qualified divorce lawyer to draft your family law agreement for you. Often, it is much more effective to pay a lawyer and have a properly drafted family law agreement in the first place as opposed to hiring a lawyer later on to defend or challenge an improperly drafted agreement. Your lawyer also makes sure that your rights and best interests are fully protected under the family law agreement.
Even if you choose not to retain a divorce lawyer to draft the agreement, we highly recommend that you at least meet a family lawyer before entering into any agreements so that you know what your rights and obligations are and you have an idea about what should be included in your family law agreements.
Our skilled divorce and family lawyers routinely draft family law agreements. If you need one drafted, contact us.