Prenuptial Agreements And How They Can Protect You

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Prenuptial Agreements

As couples embark on the journey towards marriage, a prenuptial agreement can provide them with some security amidst the excitement and anticipation. Often referred to as a prenup, this legal contract serves as a safeguard for individuals contemplating matrimony. It lays down the groundwork for the division of assets and liabilities if a divorce or separation happens. Beyond the realm of property, a prenuptial agreement extends its reach to matters such as spousal support and parenting arrangements. While not obligatory in Alberta, this document offers the promise of preserving personal and familial assets while streamlining the legal intricacies should the marriage’s course veer towards dissolution. A prenup, therefore, represents not only a practical means of ensuring financial certainty but also an embodiment of a couple’s autonomy in shaping their future.

What Is A Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenup, is a legal contract between two individuals who are planning to get married. It outlines the terms and conditions regarding the division of property and debt in the event of a future divorce or separation. The agreement allows the couple to determine how they will distribute their assets, including jointly property and individual possessions. Additionally, a prenuptial agreement can address other matters such as spousal support and parenting arrangements. While not mandatory in Alberta, a prenuptial agreement can provide peace of mind that regarding personal and family assets, and simplify the legal process in case the marriage ends. Ultimately, a prenuptial agreement provides financial certainty and agency to a couple contemplating marriage that their decisions for the future will be respected and maintained.

What Does A Prenuptial Agreement Address?

A prenuptial agreement can cover various aspects that the couple wishes to address and agree upon before entering into marriage. It typically includes provisions regarding the division of property, which encompasses how assets, debts, and financial matters will be allocated if the marriage ends in divorce or separation. This may involve specifying the distribution of jointly owned property, property in a spouses sole name, savings, investments, business assets, and third party gifts.

In addition to property division, a prenup can also address spousal support. This can outline whether either party will receive financial assistance in the event of a separation or divorce. If so, the amount and duration spousal support will continue to be payable. The agreement can also touch upon parenting, custody and child support arrangements, clarifying the rights and responsibilities of each spouse in terms of child custody, visitation rights, and child support, although it’s important to note that final decisions regarding children are always subject to the best interests of the child as determined by the court.

The flexibility of a prenuptial agreement allows couples to tailor it according to their specific needs and circumstances. They can include provisions regarding inheritance, future earnings, professional practices, and other financial considerations. It is essential to work with legal professionals to ensure the agreement is comprehensive, fair, and compliant with the laws of the jurisdiction in which it will be enforced.

Does Alberta Require Me To Have A Prenuptial Agreement?

While a prenuptial agreement is not a requirement in Alberta, not having one can have some serious unintended consequences in the event a couple chooses to separate or divorce. If you don’t have a prenuptial agreement in Alberta, the Alberta Family Property Act will govern the division of property and other divorce or separation matters. According to this Act, without a prenup, the default rule is that all property acquired during the marriage is considered family property and subject to equal division between the spouses. This may even result in a division of assets that were acquired individually by spouses prior to the marriage.

In the absence of a prenuptial agreement, the court will consider various factors to determine a fair division of assets, including the length of the marriage, each spouse’s financial contributions, their respective needs and circumstances. The court aims to achieve an equitable distribution based on these factors, amongst others, which may or may not result in an equal division. This may or may not have been the outcome spouses had contemplated when entering into the marriage.

It’s important to note that the while Family Property Act does provide some exclusions from division, such as inheritances, and gifts from third parties, the acquisition of property before marriage that has been kept separate. However, these exclusions can be complex and may require legal interpretation and evidence to establish. After many years of marriage this can be a cumbersome process with increased legal costs. especially in comparison had the couple simply entered into a prenuptial agreement at the out start.

In Alberta, What Makes A Prenuptial Agreement Legally Binding And Enforceable?

To ensure the validity and enforceability of a prenuptial agreement in Alberta, you will need to meet certain requirements. These requirements, outlined by the Alberta Family Property Act, include:

Independent Legal Advice

Both parties must consult with separate lawyers for the purposes of reviewing what the agreement involves. This ensures that each spouse has a clear understanding of the agreement’s implications and consequences. Further it ensures what the final result would be on a separation or divorce.

Written Acknowledgments

Each spouse must sign a written acknowledgment, in the presence of their respective lawyers. This acknowledgement confirms their awareness of the agreement’s nature and effect. They should also acknowledge their understanding of potential future claims to property under the Family Property Act and their intention to give up those claims in favor of the terms outlined in the agreement.

Voluntary and Coercion-Free

The individual must sign the agreement freely and voluntarily without any compulsion or undue influence from either spouse. This requirement ensures that both spouses enter into the agreement of their own accord.


In the creation and negotiation of a prenup full financial disclosure is necessary to prevent the hiding of assets. The agreement should be fair. It should take into account the full financial circumstances of each spouse to avoid allegations of extreme unfairness.

While compliance provides strong evidence of the agreement’s enforceability, challenges to the validity of a prenuptial agreement may still arise based on common law or equitable grounds. Examples include allegations of duress, undue influence, or unconscionable conduct. However, such challenges must meet a high burden of proof. Further, Alberta courts generally uphold properly executed prenuptial agreements unless clear and compelling grounds for challenge are present.

Consulting with a lawyer experienced in family law is crucial when creating a prenuptial agreement. This ensures compliance with the legal requirements and increase the likelihood of its validity and enforceability in Alberta. Without consulting a lawyer, you may be missing significant and vital requirements in order to have an enforceable agreement.

Will I need a prenuptial Agreement?

There are many reasons to sign a Prenuptial Agreement. However, for individuals who have premarital property they wish to protect, had previous marriages, or simply want certainty to the future a prenuptial agreement makes perfect sense. Remember, a prenuptial agreement is a personal decision. Its necessity or relevance may vary depending on your unique circumstances and priorities. Consulting with a family law professional can help you assess whether a prenuptial agreement is suitable for you. Call us today at 403-225-8810 or email here.


The content of this article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute specific legal or professional advice of any kind.