Increasingly high net worth individuals make use of prenuptial agreements or post-nuptial agreements to protect themselves against the ordinary applications of the Divorce Act if and when they should end up getting a divorce from their spouse. Any existing prenuptial or postnuptial agreements will of course be relevant and will require a careful review.
Even without a pre-nuptial agreement, our experienced Saskatoon divorce lawyers and Saskatoon separation lawyers will help high net individuals who are being sued for division of assets to get the best possible result.
There may be steps you can take to protect your assets and businesses from claims by your ex-spouse. These are typically not simple issues and therefore the solutions may not be simple either. It may require the help of your accountant working together with your lawyer.
Planning ahead is important as your legal team should work to put together a clear picture to present either to the lawyer for your ex-spouse or to the judge in order to show what the division of assets should be. We want to control the narrative a bit and this work can be handled in a way that provides the best possible outcome.
A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is always better in this situation as it makes everything clearer upon the breakdown of the marriage relationship, however these are frequently either not in place at the time of divorce or thought to be too difficult to talk about and get executed prior to the wedding or commencement of the marriage or civil union.
As experienced Saskatoon divorce lawyers, we must recommend to high net worth clients that they strongly consider getting a nail tight pre-nuptial agreement in place in advance, the earlier you discuss these issues with a new or potential spouse the better.
Pre-nuptial agreements do not need to say the other spouse receives nothing, they can be designed in any way that seems fair and provides the certainty at the conclusion of the relationship should that come to pass. No one expects, on their wedding day, that the relationship will end in separation or divorce.
However, statistically, we know that around 40% of marriages do end in divorce. The statistics are likely higher for co-habiting / unmarried couples.
In fact, although difficult to talk about at the early stage of a relationship, a prenuptial agreement will almost certainly save both of you a lot of extra mental anguish, grief, and legal cost should the relationship later breakdown and end in divorce.
A prenuptial agreement may be of particular importance where you are already at the time of getting married controlling significant assets and earning significant income, whereas your partner is not, as should you end up later in divorce proceedings, you could be faced with handing over half of all the increase of value in your own assets for the duration of the marriage, in addition to paying spousal support and child support which can come as quite a blow.
Just by living together for a length of time, couples will be considered “common law” which will confer rights to the common law spouses upon separation, even unmarried couples should still consider whether they wish to enter into agreements with essentially the same effect as a pre-nup would have. For unmarried couples, these are known as co-habitation agreements.
A cohabitation agreement can be drawn up in order to set forth how a couple who live together common law will terminate their legal position should they later decide to separate at some future date.
Just like a properly drawn pre-nuptial agreement would do, a good co-habitation agreement should cover all relevant issues including spousal support payments, child support payments, custody, access, and visitation, and of course property and assets division, pensions, debts, and anything else surrounding finances.
When you are deciding to get married or even to live together with another person it should still be recognized that, as much as you do not currently want it to happen, the relationship could very well end.
When, several years from now, after accumulating property and assets, savings, potentially with children, you and your partner may find yourselves parting ways due to irreconcilable differences you may wish you had had a pre-nup or cohabitation agreement in place, particularly if you are the one with all the wealth who is potentially going to have to give away half of it at this point and spend a bunch of lawyers and time and anguish on a court battle.
Should you reach this unfortunate point in the future, the two of you will likely not be on the most cooperative terms with each other, which can make it very difficult and acrimonious later on as you attempt to agree upon such incredibly important issues as child custody, spousal support, and division of property and assets.
Addressing your minds to these issues before you get married or begin cohabitation, is probably the safer and more beneficial approach, as you and your partner are willing to cooperate towards an agreement that satisfies both of you.
In our experience, the possibility to reach agreement on these difficult issues is much easier in the atmosphere prior to separation. That said, it is a difficult subject to approach, and it is an individual decision whether to proceed with a pre-nup or cohabitation agreement.
The benefit to getting a prenuptial agreement in place before hand is that you are able to control the potential outcome in advance of any possible breakdown of the relationship. A prenup serves to protect your interests, and particularly if you are entering into the marriage with a greater amount of wealth, earnings, or assets than your spouse.
It is key that such an important agreement gets prepared in consultation with an experienced Saskatoon divorce lawyer or Saskatoon separation lawyer. Likewise, if you plan on living together without being married, so called “common law”, a cohabitation agreement can be drawn up much the same as a prenuptial agreement, which is a similar type of binding and enforceable contract.
If you are already married, it is possible to get a postnuptial agreement. A postnuptial agreement has the same force and effect as a prenuptial agreement. The major difference here is that a “postnup” is agreed and executed after you have already gotten married.
The signing of a post-nup will involve one or both of the parties giving up certain rights and interests to which they are already entitled which can be more difficult than a pre-nup, signed in advance to the marriage.
Common issues addressed in a postnuptial contract include the protection of financial assets and interests, issues surrounding ownership of a home or business, career considerations, as well as, for example, children from a former relationship.
Issues of inheritance may also be relevant where one party or their parents might be reluctant to provide funds while they are alive or through their will, because they fear that, should the relationship of their son or daughter to whom they are providing the gift breakdown, half of that gift will be taken by the ex-spouse.
Although these can be sensitive issues to speak about, they are issues that responsible people should think carefully about and address.
SASKATOON – POSTNUPTIAL AGREEMENTS
As previously stated, a separation agreement, be it a prenup, postnup, or cohabitation agreement, will serve to make the divorce or separation process simpler, smoother, and ultimately less expensive in future legal costs.
While the signing of prenup, postnup, or cohabitation agreement are increasingly more common, many couples who proceed with divorce do not have one in place beforehand. To be clear, not all couples and partners necessarily have contentious and expensive divorces. A divorce can proceed with a separation agreement at the end of the relationship.
SASKATOON – CO-HABITATION AGREEMENTS
Our Saskatoon property and asset division lawyers team can also help with co-habitation agreements which just like a “pre-nup” or pre-nuptial agreement does for married people, can set out exactly how property will be divided if you and your unmarried partner decide to separate later on.
The law can provide certain rights in a so-called “common law marriage” or alike situation. Many people and particularly high net worth individuals whether male of female wish to set out in advance what should occur should the cohabitation cease. High net worth individuals in particular need to be careful about co-habiting for a period of over two years without having a co-habitation agreement in place.
The family law lawyers in our Saskatoon office provide representation in Saskatoon and the surrounding areas, including for anyone who may be looking for a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement and you live in any of the following:
Kindersley, Melfort, Tisdale, Prince Albert, Humboldt, Nipawin, North Battleford, La Ronge, Lloydminster, Canora, Esterhazy, Martensville, Warman, Rosetown, Outlook, Watrous, Dalmeny, Osler, Langham, Rosthern, and Delisle.
Established in 1986, Merchant Law has three offices across Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Regina, and Moose Jaw.
Getting in Touch
If you need help with drafting a prenup, postnup, or co-habitation agreement, one of our capable Saskatoon family law lawyers at Merchant Law Group LLP can help you.
Call Merchant Law to speak with a lawyer now 306-653-7777
Or else fill in the form on this webpage.
Or you can visit us in person during ordinary business hours at 224 4th Avenue South in downtown Saskatoon.