What You Need to Know About Cohabitation Agreements

September 21, 2023


When two people decide to live together in a non-marital relationship, they may not always consider the legal implications of their decision. In Alberta, these relationships are recognized by the Adult Interdependent Relationships Act as “adult independent relationships.” These relationships are often referred to as living “common law”.

While these relationships offer many benefits, such as shared expenses, they can also carry potential legal risks and uncertainties. Therefore, it is crucial to protect each partner’s interests by creating a cohabitation agreement, which is a legal document that outlines each partner’s rights and responsibilities.

Cohabitation agreements are especially essential in situations where one partner owns significant assets or earns considerably more income than the other. These agreements can clarify financial expectations, outline how assets and debts will be divided if the relationship ends, and protect both partners’ legal rights.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the key aspects of cohabitation agreements and why it’s important to work with family lawyers in Edmonton when creating one.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is a legal contract between two people who are living together in a romantic or domestic relationship but are not married. An example of such a relationship is the common law relationship. The cohabitation agreement sets out the terms and conditions of an unmarried couple’s cohabitation, including financial responsibilities, property rights, and other matters that may arise if the relationship ends.

The agreement covers a wide range of topics, such as:

  • Property division: Identifying which assets each partner owns and how they will be divided in the event of a breakup.
  • Financial support: Determining whether one partner will provide financial support to the other if the relationship ends.
  • Debt: Assigning responsibility for any debts incurred during the relationship.
  • Responsibilities: Outlining how household responsibilities will be shared between the partners.
  • Dispute resolution: Establishing how any disputes that arise during the relationship will be resolved.

Why You Need a Cohabitation Agreement

Cohabitation agreements are an essential tool for protecting the rights and interests of both partners in a non-marital relationship. Here are some of the benefits of having a cohabitation agreement in place:

Protects Your Assets

Without a cohabitation agreement, assets acquired during the relationship may be considered joint property, even if both partners do not legally own them. This means that if the relationship ends, one partner may be entitled to a share of the other partner’s assets, even if they didn’t contribute to their acquisition or maintenance.

A cohabitation agreement can help ensure that each partner retains ownership of their own assets.

Clarifies Financial Responsibilities

A cohabitation agreement can set out the financial responsibilities of each partner, including who will pay for household expenses and whether one partner will provide financial support to the other if the relationship ends. This can help reduce uncertainty and disagreements and provide a clear framework for the relationship.

Provides Peace of Mind

Knowing that your legal rights and responsibilities are clearly outlined can help reduce stress and uncertainty in the relationship. A cohabitation agreement can help you feel more secure and confident in your relationship and reduce the risk of disputes and misunderstandings.

How to Create a Cohabitation Agreement

Creating a cohabitation agreement requires careful consideration and consultation with experienced family lawyers in Edmonton. Here are some steps to follow when creating a cohabitation agreement:

1. Discuss Your Goals

Start by sitting down with your partner to discuss your expectations and goals for the relationship. Be honest about your priorities and concerns, including financial responsibilities, property rights, and more.

2. Seek Legal Advice

Consult with family lawyers in Edmonton who can advise you on the legal implications of cohabitation and help you draft a comprehensive cohabitation agreement. As part of their family law services. Your lawyer should also be able to help identify any legal issues or risks and provide guidance on how to address them.

3. Exchange Financial Disclosure

Parties cannot waive their rights and claims if they do not know what rights and claims they have. For this reason, the exchange of financial disclosure is crucial. The failure to exchange financial information can jeopardize the enforceability of the final agreement. Your lawyer will explain to you the legal obligation you have to disclose.

4. Draft the Agreement

Work with your lawyer to draft a cohabitation agreement that reflects your goals and priorities. Be sure to include specific details on the division of property, financial responsibilities, and other matters. Your family lawyer can help you identify any legal requirements or standards that must be met for the agreement to be enforceable.

5. Sign and Execute the Agreement

Both partners should review and sign the agreement with separate lawyers of their own choosing. It’s essential to ensure that both partners fully understand the terms of the agreement and sign the agreement voluntarily and without coercion.

6. Review and Update the Agreement

Cohabitation agreements should be reviewed regularly to ensure they remain up-to-date and reflect any changes in the relationship or circumstances of the partners. You may need to update the agreement if you acquire new assets, incur new debts, or experience other significant life events.

Why You Should Work With Family Lawyers in Edmonton

Creating a cohabitation agreement can be a complex process that requires a deep understanding of family law and the legal implications of cohabitation. That’s why it’s essential to work with knowledgeable family lawyers in Edmonton who can provide you with expert guidance and support.

Family lawyers in Edmonton can help you:

  • Understand the legal implications of cohabitation and the benefits of having a cohabitation agreement in place.
  • Identify and address any legal issues or risks associated with your cohabitation agreement.
  • Ensure that both partners fully understand the terms of the agreement and agree to them voluntarily and without coercion.

About Nexus Legal

At Nexus Legal, we specialize in family law, real estate law, and wills and estates. Our team of skilled lawyers is dedicated to providing you with personalized, high-quality legal services that meet your unique needs. Learn more about Nexus Legal.

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