Do We Need a Cohabitation Agreement: Understanding How a Legal Contract Can Strengthen Your Life Together

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John Wiley and Sons, May 18, 2010 - Law - 208 pages
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You're committed, you're moving in together and you're blending your households. But are you forgetting something?

Many Canadians find themselves in common-law relationships and think that they aren't any different from a legal marriage. It can be a shock to find out that, when the going gets tough, certain rights under the law-not to mention financial obligations-do or do not apply. For instance, if one common-law partner becomes seriously ill or passes away, will the other be able to access joint bank accounts? Their shared home? What happens if there is no will? And what about the kids?

These are some of the many serious questions that couples need to consider before sharing their lives, all of which can be addressed in a cohabitation agreement. A cohabitation agreement allows a couple to make sure their partner and any children are taken care of in times of need or crisis; that ownership in properties or financial resources are clear, combined, separated or protected. Most of all, these contracts allow for the peace of mind that comes with having a game plan in place should the relationship end due to death or separation.

Take the advice of Michael Cochrane, a lawyer with more than 30 years of experience, and consider the numerous issues that can affect a common-law relationship. Do We Need a Cohabitation Agreement? is written in clear, nontechnical language and includes real-life examples based on Canadian cases. Cochrane addresses critical issues such as wills and estates, powers of attorney, the special concerns of step-families and same-sex couples, and how to have this discussion with your partner. It will also help you work in a cost-effective way with a lawyer should you decide that an agreement will benefit your relationship.

This is your future together. Get it right from the very beginning.

  

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Contents

Chapter 1 Is this book for you?
1
Why Canadians Live Common Law
3
Terminology
6
How Many Canadians Live Common Law?
8
Chapter 2 Eyes Wide Open Due Diligence and Relationship Building ...
11
Relationship Building
17
Chapter 3 Rights and Responsibilities to Each Other While Living Together
33
What about Having Children?
36
Chapter 8 The Role of Your Lawyer
117
Why Do You Need a Lawyer?
119
Why Do You Need a Lawyer with Family Law Experience?
120
Choosing Your Lawyer and Managing The Relationship ...
121
Buying Some Advice but Not Independent Legal Advice
123
Chapter 9 Signed Sealed and Delivered
125
Obtain Independent Legal Advice
128
Doing It Yourself
130

What about Property?
40
What about MedicalDental Health Benefits?
41
What about Income Tax Returns?
42
Chapter 4 The Legal Consequences of Living Common Law Rights and Responsibilities if You Separate ...
45
When Does Cohabitation End?
46
What Happens if We Have Children and Separate?
49
What Happens if We Have Children Who Need Financial Support?
52
What Happens to Property We Owned Before We Began Living together?
56
What Happens to Property We Acquired While Together?
61
What if One of Us Needs Financial Support After Separation?
62
What if We Move While Living Common Law?
65
Chapter 5 The Legal Consequences of Living Common Law
67
Powers of Attorney for Personal Care and Property ...
72
Support
73
Chapter 6 Creating Your Own Set of Rights and Obligations
75
Providing for Children
76
Chapter 7 Having The Conversation
105
The Dos
106
The Donts
110
What if Youre Already Living Together?
113
Some Tips for Negotiating and Drafting Cohabitation Agreements ...
141
Chapter 10 SameSex Couples
145
Sperm Donation
146
Transgendering
147
Chapter 11 Lets Look at an Annotated Cohabitation Agreement
149
Cohabitation Agreement
150
Separation Agreement with Former Spouse if this Applies
153
Support
161
Release of Spouse Support
162
Certificate of Independent Legal Advice
172
Appendices
175
Appendix A My Marriage Contract WorksheetWhat I Own and What I Owe
176
Appendix B Our Cohabitation Agreement Schedules A and B
178
Appendix C Some Considerations and Key Document Checklist
180
Appendix D Table of CommonLaw Rights and Responsibilities
183
Appendix E Consent for Disclosure of Criminal History Information
185
Appendix F Permission to Conduct Credit References
187
Index
189
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

MICHAEL G. COCHRANE, LL.B., has been practicing law in Ontario for 30 years and is a partner with the firm Ricketts, Harris LLP. He is the author of a number of books including Surviving Your Divorce: A Guide to Canadian Family Law; Do We Need A Marriage Contract? Understanding How a Legal Agreement Can Strengthen Your Life Together ; Family Law in Ontario: A Practical Guide for Lawyers and Law Clerks; and Strictly Legal: Things You Absolutely Need to Know about Canadian Law. Mr. Cochrane has hosted Strictly Legal, a legal affairs show on BNN and has appeared as a guest legal expert on many radio and TV programs. He writes a regular column for Zoomer magazine and speaks frequently on a variety of legal topics to average Canadians. Visit his website www.michaelcochrane.ca or www.rickettsharris.com.

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