Though often thought of as simple inexpensive agreements which can done at the last minute before a marriage or when people will live together, Marriage Contracts and Cohabitation Agreements are very serious and very much needed and expected often, such as when the parties are marrying for the 2nd time or late in life or where one party is bringing a house into the marriage. The consequences on separation or death could be disastrous to a party if there is no agreement.
The courts have taken full financial disclosure for marriage contracts very seriously and have set aside agreements where proper disclosure was not made. Many lawyers will not draft these agreements because of the high risk and low cost that the public will pay. I will do this work but only if there an ample number of days before the marriage date or the start of the cohabitation to negotiate, and that I am allowed to spend the time necessary to advise, give and obtain disclosure, negotiate and draft the agreement.
The steps in my process are :
- 1The Client reviews my articles on website and completes the marriage contract/cohabitation questionnaire.
- 2The Client makes an appointment to see me.
- 3At the Consultation with me, preferably at least 4 months before marriage or the start of the cohabitation, we discuss several issues as per my article on what happens at a first consultation.
- 4I draft the agreement based on my Client’s instructions and send a draft copy to the Client.
- 5The Client completes the income and asset sections of the Family Law Act financial statement (form 13) and provides documentation proving that information including their last 3 years tax returns and notices of assessments.
- 6The Client meets with me to finalize and swear their financial statement and to review and finalize the draft agreement.
- 7I send the sworn financial statement, documentation and draft agreement to the future spouse or cohabitee’s lawyer or future spouse or cohabitee if they do not yet have a lawyer.
- 8The lawyers negotiate changes to the agreement if necessary.
- 9The future spouse or cohabitee’s lawyer provides financial disclosure and a signed negotiated agreement.
- 10The Client attends at my office to sign the agreement and is given their copy and a copy of the other side’s financial disclosure.
- 11I send back signed agreement to spouse’s lawyer and report to my Client.