By Tia Silver Surette
You’re in love. The question has been popped, the invitations have been sent, and the band has been booked. You’re ready for happily ever after.
But do you need a prenuptial agreement?
“In a great deal of cases, no.” says Tia Silver-Surrette, family lawyer with Burchell MacDougall’s Wolfville office.
For many couples, no special legal arrangements need to be made before a marriage. A “prenup”, which is usually referred to as a marriage contract or cohabitation agreement, comes into play when one or both members of the couple have assets they want to protect from the pool of marital property.
“These agreements are designed to protect family assets or individual wealth.” Tia explains, “For a lot of couples, it’s simply not necessary. In some cases, though, it’s a logical and rational way to have a plan in place for the worst-case scenario.”
In the event of a divorce, the law divides a former couple’s assets; however, it may not divide those assets the way you want. For example, if there is an item, investment, or property that you fear losing, it should be protected.
“It’s hard to think about the most unromantic outcome possible for your marriage when you’re caught up of the romance of it all,” she goes on, “But we buy insurance to protect our homes from fire and flood, things we hope will never happen; you can think of it as relationship insurance.”
Very often, these agreements are influenced by outside forces, like family, and that can make for a prickly situation. When both parties are on board, the process tends to be easier, but that’s not always the case. Enlisting an experienced law firm, like Burchell MacDougall, can help.
“As a family lawyer, it’s really up to me to figure out what the couple is actually looking for from their agreement,” explains Tia, “And it tends to be more about the why than the what. Every case is different, but the reasons why someone wants to protect their assets usually end up being more important than the assets themselves.”
This article is for information only and is not intended to be legal advice. If you have any questions or would like further information, you should consult a lawyer.