Can cohabitation or prenuptial agreements be challenged or overturned in court?
Yes, cohabitation and prenuptial agreements can be challenged and potentially overturned in court if they are deemed unfair, invalid, or for other reasons. Generally, though, the court will want to encourage and uphold agreements made for this purpose.
When assessing the validity of prenuptial agreements, the court considers several factors. A key consideration is the legislative objectives outlined in the relevant provincial laws. In Alberta, court refers to the Family Property Act. In British Columbia, the Family Law Act serves as the guiding legislation. Both Acts share common goals – they aim to promote the resolution of family law disputes through agreements and establish a framework for the equal division of assets that is both predictable and clear.
In addition to these legislative goals, the court also weighs the importance of contractual autonomy while acknowledging the unique circumstances and inherent vulnerabilities present when negotiating agreements that pertain to spousal relationships. Issues of unconscionability, or unfair advantage, are closely scrutinized.
Because of these complexities, it's important to make sure your cohabitation or prenuptial agreement is fairly negotiated, legally valid and enforceable. One effective way to safeguard your agreement from being challenged or overturned is by seeking independent legal advice. This will help ensure that both parties fully understand the terms and implications of the agreement, thereby adding an extra layer of legal protection.