Have you ever heard stories of incorrectly used commas costing a litigant millions of dollars? While this may be an extreme example of things going wrong if something is overlooked, the possibility of missing pieces or overlooking something of serious consequence to you is hugely increased by using a form Agreement that is not tailored to your individual and unique circumstances. I have had the misfortune of reviewing several Separation and Prenuptial Agreements that have been printed off the internet and some of my issues with them are as follows:
- There are huge missing pieces with respect to individuals’ property that have been left out altogether.
- The spousal support provisions are completely insufficient to protect either party.
- Property is governed by provincial laws. Many of the Agreements on the Internet seem to come from jurisdictions outside of Alberta and as such do not follow our law and are incorrect.
- Provisions for child support are almost always seriously deficient and/or are calculated improperly.
- The financial information exchange required by Alberta’s Family Property Act is not usually addressed at all.
- There are no provisions setting out how transfers of property are to be made from one party to the other. By way of an example, it is commonplace to have one spouse purchase the other spouse’s interest in the matrimonial home. What happens if the house is transferred into one spouse’s name to permit refinancing but the receiving spouse never pays the money? What if one spouse has an entitlement to the other’s pension? How would one go about determining what that interest looks like and ensuring it is divided properly?
These are just my top six reasons why I think it is of utmost importance to meet with a lawyer to understand your entitlements and why it is crucial to have a proper contract created just for you and your circumstances upon which you may rely.