Vancouver Postnup marriage agreements are currently in vogue for movies stars and wealthy married couples. Many Vancouver or Calgary spouses involved in or who are about to take their committed relationships to the next level have heard of prenups but have you ever heard of a postnup? In today’s blog renowned divorce lawyer Lorne Maclean, QC explains everything you need to know about Vancouver postnup marriage agreements. Lorne Maclean, QC acts for high net worth to ultra-high net worth spouses and was recently interviewed by Bloomberg on how wealthy spouses to be can protect their wealth when they are entering into a new relationship.
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Postnups are a form of marriage agreement entered into after marriage and similar marriage agreements for unmarried committed spouses are called a cohabitation agreement. So if you missed the opportunity to sign a prenup because there wasn’t time to get it done before the marriage you still have time to govern your marriage affairs as you see fit. In BC you can enter into a marriage agreement to govern financial affairs during your relationship or after it breaks down:
- Prenups also call prenuptial agreements are for people about to get married;
- cohabitation agreements are for unmarried spouses who are in a marriage like relationships before or after they have met the two-year threshold to be treated equally with married spouses for spousal support and property division purposes;
- Postnups also called postnuptial agreements are for those who did not get an agreement signed before they were married.
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Often called a marriage contract under the BC Family Law Act, a postnup is signed after a wedding and can include clauses to:
- decide what will happen to the parties income they earn during the marriage so that either the parties remaining separate and self-sufficient with a waiver of spousal support OR they agree in advance of any relationship breakdown that a certain sum of spousal support will be paid for a particular time period. Crafting a fair support agreement must take into account any potential economic disadvantage of one spouse giving up a career to raise children or risk being set aside;
- decide how expenses and household duties during the relationship will be shared;
- decide whether debts brought into the marriage or incurred after will be joint or solely the liability of the party whose name they are in;
- decide how property acquired during the marriage will be owned and what happens to that property on relationship termination;
- decide how property brought into the relationship, or gifted or inherited by one spouse, and an increase in value by appreciation or pay down of debt or income made on same will be allocated if at all.
- Decide what happens to property on the death of a spouse which can be very important when children of past or the new marriage are involved.
Benefits of Vancouver Postnup Marriage Agreements
The key benefit is that Vancouver Postnup Marriage Agreements allow spouses to create a bespoke plan for their marriage that meets joint goals and aspirations. By deciding during happy times what happens on the breakdown of the marriage, if it occurs, the parties can save money and emotional upheaval by avoiding a potentially divisive and costly divorce proceeding. It is important that parties have a rough idea of how their future lives will turn out. Failure to correctly predict the future relationship outcome may lead to a postnup being varied if it is found to be significantly unfair.
Procedural fairness must occur in signing any postnup, which means full disclosure must be made by both spouses. This will include getting proper valuations for cash, stocks real estate, companies, and trust interests. It is not acceptable to ever agree to a waiver of disclosure and clauses like “each party is satisfied that they have a general idea of the net worth of the other party” is foolhardy.
Senior family lawyers must screen for any imbalance of power between the parties after marriage and at the time of negotiating and signing any Vancouver Postnup Marriage Agreements. While parties enter into Vancouver Postnup Marriage Agreements obviously want to depart and contract out of the support and family property regime of the BC Family Law Act, unconscionable or significantly unfair agreements negotiated under duress and without independent legal advice may not hold up if challenged.
Conversely, parties that rush to sign an unfair agreement thinking an agreement won’t be enforced by their spouse likely will get a rude awakening. The time to ensure an agreement is fair is at the time it is signed not years later. Consider an expiry clause that kicks in after a set period of time if the initial intent of the Vancouver Postnup Marriage Agreements was to protect one spouse if the marriage is short.
Vancouver Postnup Marriage Agreements Lawyers Are Crucial To Crafting An Agreement That Stands The Test of Time
All couples whether those entering a marriage for the first time or entering into a second or even third marriage should seek advice from an experienced divorce lawyer. MacLean Law has 6 offices across BC and in Calgary Alberta to help you. Call us now.