Marriage is supposed to last a lifetime, but people can change over time, and, so can their relationships. And when these changes happen, some people may only find the solution they need through legal separation—and while separation might be an excellent option for many dissolving marriages, it can be a complicated process.
This is why almost 8% of Canadians enter prenuptial agreements to protect their interests and wealth. However, is it possible to enter into a similar agreement after you get married? And what are some of the potential benefits of joining this type of agreement with your partner?
As experts in Family Law, our associates at KH | Dunkley Law Group understand the ins and outs of marriage contracts, also known as prenuptial agreements, including how to handle them if a marriage breaks down. Today, we’ll look at what these agreements entail, when they might be suitable for your marriage, and if you can enter them after getting married.
Of course, every case is unique, so please speak to our legal team today to learn more about these agreements and how they can affect your particular circumstance.
What Is a Prenuptial Agreement?
Prenuptial agreements get a bad reputation as a sign of trouble in a marriage, but in reality, they are quite the opposite. They are a sign of mutual respect and individual responsibility, and anybody can enter into a prenuptial agreement if they believe it can help protect and secure the relationship.
But what is a “prenup,” actually?
A prenuptial agreement is a contract between you and your spouse that helps align ownership of various debts and assets to a particular person should the marriage ever end. These agreements may also be called marriage contracts or postnuptial agreements, and they can involve:
- Spousal support
- Real estate ownership
- Property ownership
- Child custody
- Virtually any matter affected by the marriage
When Are They Right for You?
Typically speaking, marriage contracts are used to protect individual wealth should a relationship fall apart. However, they might be a good idea for your marriage if:
- You wish to maintain custody of a child.
- You wish to keep assets and debts separate in case the marriage ends.
- You have a net worth significantly larger than your partner’s.
It is important to note that while a prenup is a great idea for some marriages, it might not include future decisions you make as a married couple. For example, if you buy a house after you get married, and it isn’t included in the prenuptial agreement, then you might need to go through a lengthy legal process to determine how the property will be split between you both.
Can You Sign a Prenup After Getting Married?
You can absolutely sign a marriage contract after you get married. In fact, you can sign a marriage contract at virtually any point in your relationship.
But it’s important to know why you’re signing the contract and ensure that both parties understand what signing a contract means for the relationship. We highly recommend speaking with a family lawyer to review your individual and marital assets and debts to determine how the agreement should support you and your spouse.
Entering a Marriage Contract
Now that we know what a prenuptial agreement is and why signing one might be a good idea for you and your spouse, let’s look at what the process may look like and what you can include in your marriage contract.
Without a marriage contract, marital items like homes, cars, and appliances are split 50/50 in value during a divorce. Still, it can become even more complicated if spousal support and child custody are also involved. Following this process can help ensure that you and your spouse have every interest protected in case you decide to end the marriage.
Speak to Your Partner
The first step is to have an honest conversation with your partner about a contract and how it may benefit both parties. As we mentioned earlier, prenuptial agreements and marriage contracts get a bad reputation for being a sign of a rocky relationship, however, these agreements are designed to support the individuals in the marriage just in case the unthinkable happens.
Even if you and your partner don’t plan on marrying, you could enter a cohabitation agreement to also protect your individual wealth and interests.
List Your Debts & Assets
After you and your partner speak about the contract and why it might be suitable for your relationship, the next step is to take stock of your personal and marital assets and debts to determine what is important to you in case the relationship fails.
Some of these items can include:
- Personal and partnered investments
- Your home or other real estate properties
- Individual items like cars, televisions, appliances, etc.
- Child custody and child support
Speak to a Family Lawyer
Once you and your spouse have a list of what is important to hold on to after the marriage fails, it’s time to speak to a family lawyer about your case and sign the agreement. The cost of signing the agreement fluctuates depending on how complex the case may be, but your family lawyer can work with you to determine their fees while providing the help you need.
At KH | Dunkley Law Group, we have years of experience working with families and couples to sign marriage contracts and protect individual interests. If you believe a marriage agreement could help support you and your partner’s assets, contact us today to learn more about how we can help.