By Marni L. Karpiak - from WW31-women-   By Marni L. Karpiak ask the expert S pring is just
By Marni L. Karpiak - from WW31-women-   By Marni L. Karpiak ask the expert S pring is just

By Marni L. Karpiak - from WW31-women-   By Marni L. Karpiak ask the expert S pring is just

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Text of By Marni L. Karpiak - from WW31-women-   By Marni L. Karpiak ask the expert S pring is just

By Marni L. Karpiak

ask the expert

S pring is just around the cornerand that holiday with the arrow-wielding cupid has come and gone. The question has been asked and answered, and you are now planning to move in with your partner, or youre planning a trip down the aisle.

Ah, new beginnings!

Before you go any further, there are some important things to consider about the possible end of your relationship. No one wants to think about the end before the relationship has even really begun, and thinking about it does not mean that it will come to pass. But forethought now may prevent a lot of additional trouble in the event your relationship does come to an end.

Here are the five things you need to consider:

fIvE ThIngS you nEED To KnoW bEfoRE you TIE ThE KnoT

1. Have a clear idea of what your plans are for your future together. While none of us has a crystal ball in which we can see for sure how our future unfolds, we all have hopes, dreams, ambitions and plans. Although the following questions might seem obvious, having an idea of your plans for the future will help you in what you need to cover in a prenuptial agreement or cohabitation agreement.

Some questions to ask yourself include:

Do you plan on having a family? If so, when?

Is your plan to work for a few years and then start your family, or are you going to start your family right away?

Will you or your partner stay at home to raise your family?

Nuptial Knowledge

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Nuptial Knowledge

Do either you or your partner have children from a prior relationship? If so, what will be the other partys relationship to those children (that is, will the non-biological party be standing in the place of a parent)?

Are either of you finishing your education now? Will either of you be returning to school in the future?

Are you, or is your partner, involved in a family business, or in their own business?

These are only a few of the questions which you might ask, and how the law applies to your situation will depend upon your answers to those questions. Your lawyer will then be able to advise you of your rights and your obligations

2. Have a clear understanding of what your prenuptial agreement or cohabitation agreement is to cover. Is the intent for the agreement to cover all of your assets, both present and future, or just to cover any assets you may acquire during the relationship? Is the agreement to deal with the issue of spousal support or common-law partner support? Note that child support is not mentioned here, as the court always retains jurisdiction to determine this issue. In other words, child support is not something which can be negotiated away.

3. Understand your financial circumstances.The assets which you have at the date you begin cohabiting with your partner, or the date of marriage, are not shareable in the event of a future breakdown in the relationship. Nevertheless, you need to disclose those assets. Generally speaking, while the pre-acquired asset itself is not shareable, any increase in its value may be shareable. As well, you must recognize that how you treat those assets in the future may cause them to lose their exempt status. Similarly, if you have inherited any property (whether realty or other assets), or you anticipate receiving an inheritance, that asset is generally exempt from being shared with your partner if the relationship breaks down. Once again, the exempt status of that inheritance can be lost through inadvertence.

4. Understand your partners financial circumstances. The same considerations, inherent in understanding your own financial circumstances, apply. In order to understand what you are giving up your right to share in, you must have received full disclosure in order to make a fully informed decision. Understand

your rights and your obligations. These are often the mirror of each other, that is, a right to one of you presumes an obligation on the other. These include the right to receive disclosure from your partner, including their income, assets and debts. The flip side of that is that just as you have the right to obtain your partners disclosure, so too does your partner have the right to obtain your financial disclosure. Thus, your obligation is to provide your financial disclosure to your partner, and to ensure that it is complete and accurate.

Similarly, if you have children, then on separation, one of you as parents may have the right to claim child support, and the other parent would have a corresponding obligation to pay child support. If one of you has given up their career in order to care for the children, there may also be a right to receive spousal support. Often cohabitation agreements or prenuptial agreements will include releases of future rights to spousal support, thus, you will have to consider this very carefully.

5. Obtain legal advice. A few hours of time now with a lawyer to obtain legal advice may save you countless hours and untold dollars later on. Finally, deal with the matter of a possible prenuptial agreement or cohabitation agreement early on and well in advance of the big day. It takes time for each party to gather up all of the relevant financial disclosure required to be exchanged. It takes time for your lawyer to review the disclosure and to draft an appropriate agreement. Once that agreement is drafted, you will have to review it and discuss any further revisions. The draft agreement is then sent to your partners lawyer, who will review it and advises your partner. They may request further revisions before the agreement is put into final form and signed by both of you.

As well, having to discuss the myriad questions about your intentions and hopes for future can cause some emotional upset between you and your partner, and you do not want any negative feelings lingering as your big day approaches. If you get this done early on, then you can spend the last few weeks dealing with the usual multitude of last minute details that require your attention, and when the day itself finally arrives, you will be able to relax and enjoy yourself.

marni Karpiak is a family lawyer and partner at Fillmore Riley LLP. She may be reached at 204.957.8341 or mkarpiak@fillmoreriley.com.

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