Relationship agreements are legally binding contracts meant to resolve outstanding matters and describe each partner’s rights and obligations.
Whether you draft them at beginning, middle or at the end of your relationship, these agreements help define your rights and obligations and what happens if you decide to separate from your spouse or partner.
Couples who plan to maintain their current relationship often seek a formal legal agreement to clarify their finances and property, and to establish what would happen should they separate at any time in the future.
Such agreements include:
- Cohabitation agreements
- Prenuptial agreements
- Marriage contracts (postnuptial agreements)
- Adult interdependent relationship agreements
Spouses who face marital breakdown must negotiate agreements to address issues such as child custody, parenting, support, and property division. Agreements can be all encompassing or limited to specific issues.
Bodnaruk Law routinely handles all of these various types of relationship agreements.
If your marriage is at the point where you and your partner decide to separate, while you are not required to put anything in writing or notify the court, it’s in your best interest to have a lawyer prepare a separation agreement for you. Preparing a legally binding contract doesn’t mean your marriage is over, but without one, the date of your separation may come into question, or you may run into a dispute over support or custody matters down the road.
If you’ve done your best to work out your family problems, but you’ve decided to leave your marriage anyway, with a separation agreement in place, you’ll have already taken the first step required to develop a legally sound divorce, as well as negotiation toward eventual matrimonial settlement agreements.
Matrimonial Settlement Agreements (also referred to as Parenting, Property, and Support Agreements)
Just because you have a separation agreement, doesn’t mean you are automatically divorced after a year - you must proceed through the court’s divorce process in order to end your marriage. The process is different for common-law couples.
Part of this process, and in order to be granted an eventual Divorce Judgment, you must negotiate the terms of your divorce with your ex-spouse. This is where Bodnaruk Law can advocate in your best interest, and ensure your rights and those of your children are protected.
Matrimonial settlement agreements are comprehensive and can include everything from child custody and support, to spousal support and division of matrimonial property, including transfers of land and division of pensions. In order for these relationship agreements to be legally binding, there must be full financial disclosure on behalf of both parties, and both parties must be represented by separate, independent legal counsel.
According to a series of Supreme Court decisions, after an agreement has been reached, the lower courts should not re-open the agreement at one party's request, unless there has been a lack of financial disclosure, there has been an absence of independent legal advice, or truly unforeseen circumstances have arisen, leading to a situation that cannot be condoned.