Going to court is almost always the least desirable option for separating and divorcing spouses. Out-of-court dispute resolution methods such as mediation and collaborative divorce exist. But, taking steps to prevent conflict rather than resolve it is always a prudent course. Our post this week answers a few questions about agreements that couples – both married and common-law – can make well in advance of a possible rupture.
What Kinds Of Agreements Can Couples Make?
Marriage, prenuptial and cohabitation agreements all accomplish the same purpose. Once signed, they become enforceable legal contracts that set out the terms of the relationship and responsibilities of each spouse.
When Can Agreements Be Made?
Agreements can cover how issues are to be handled during the time that the couple lives together and also in the event that the relationship ends. A couple may enter into one before or at the time a marriage or common-law relationship is formed. But spouses may also choose to draft an agreement at any time during the course of the relationship or at its end.
What Issues Can Agreements Cover?
Family law agreements made at the outset of or during a relationship typically cover financial matters, such as how property and debt will be managed, and how these will be split upon separation or divorce.
They may also cover spousal support and certain issues related to the care of children. However, a couple cannot decide in advance on child custody, parenting time and child support. These issues can only be decided on in the best interests of the child at the end of the parents’ relationship in separation agreements.
Although agreements are private contracts, couples should seek legal advice to ensure that any document they sign is both legally valid and also protective of each party’s rights and interests.