Cohabitation Agreements

A Cohabitation Agreement, is a legal agreement reached between a couple who have chosen to live together in a spousal like relationship, and have chosen not to marry.   The content of a Cohabitation Agreement can vary widely, but commonly includes provisions for division of property and spousal support if the couple separates.

In Alberta, how the law treats property after an unmarried couple separates is very complicated. There is legislation in Alberta that addresses child support and spousal support for an unmarried couple. However, there is no Alberta legislation that addresses how property is treated. When it comes to property, an Alberta Judge refers to similar fact cases that have been decided in the past, and legal principles that have evolved over time.

If you and your beloved wish to have greater certainty relating to how your property and finances will be treated in the event of your separation, it is particularly important that you have an experienced Alberta family law lawyer assist you. Due to the fact that the law is very complicated in this area, you will require legal advice for your specific situation; and require an experienced family law lawyer to draft a Cohabitation Agreement that is more likely to be enforceable in Alberta. Alberta Judges often will not enforce a Cohabitation Agreement if it was poorly drafted; or if they determine that the parties did not understand the full legal implications of the agreement they signed.

Do You Need a Cohabitation Agreement?

If you and your beloved want greater certainty and predictability regarding how your property and finances will be treated in the event you separate, then you should enter into a legal and enforceable Cohabitation Agreement.

A Cohabitation Agreement is strongly recommended if any of the following situations apply to you.

  • You own property, either individually or in joint names.
  • You have a significant amount of assets that you have accumulated and continue to accumulate.
  • You have a business and would want certainty and predictability regarding your business in the event of your separation.
  • You have a farm and/or have an interest in a family farm that you would want to preserve and protect in the event of your separation
  • You have a pension and are continuing to accumulate the pension while living together.
  • You have been living together for a short period of time and have had children together.

Couples who are living together often do not want to engage in any level of formality regarding their relationship. They often fear addressing how they would want their property and finances to be divided if they separated.   However if they do not address these questions in an open and honest way now, when their relationship is good, it will be much more difficult to address later if they are in the middle of splitting up.

As a trained Collaborative Family Law lawyer and Life Coach, Beryl McNeill has extensive experience in facilitating an open and honest discussion with respect to these issues, and will help you create a legal enforceable Cohabitation Agreement that provides your relationship with financial certainty and predictability.

Contact an Experienced Calgary Family Law Lawyer

Every couple requires a fair, respectful and sensible approach that is tailored to meeting the needs of their specific situation. Call 403-410-3844 or email us at to set up a consultation with Beryl.