Judge throws book at Mountie Marriage Agreement
When the couple first met she was a 27 year old waitress and single mom. He was a 44 year old, soon to be retired Mountie, and father of three. After a relatively brief period of living together the parties decided to marry.
It’s not uncommon, or unreasonable, for anybody contemplating a common law relationship or marriage, to attempt to protect or limit their assets from division in the event that the relationship fails by means of a Marriage Agreement.
Basically parties can, by means of such an agreement, opt out of family law legislation, which prescribes how assets are to be divided.
And that’s exactly what the husband tried to accomplish by having his future wife sign such an Agreement. When the marriage subsequently ended, the husband expected the Marriage Agreement to be enforced according to its terms.
However, his former wife had other ideas, and sought to have the Agreement set aside.
As the evidence at trial revealed, the timing and circumstances surrounding the signing of the Marriage Agreement could not have been worse, and would ultimately prove to have fatal flaws.
The Marriage Agreement which was drafted by the groom’s lawyer, was delivered by another Mountie the night before the wedding for her signature. The Mountie was her fiance’s best friend.
According to the wife it was presented as a “take it, or leave it”, (meaning the marriage), ultimatum. In the face of such undue pressure the wife signed.
Furthermore, the wife also did not have the opportunity to obtain independent legal advice before signing the agreement. If she had, she would likely been advised that some terms were inaccurate, and on the whole, grossly one sided, in favor of the husband.
Concluding that such factors were simply unconscionable, the court set aside the Marriage Agreement. It then substituted its own terms for the division of assets, far more financially favorable to the wife than set out in the Agreement.
So if you’re contemplating a common law relationship, or marriage, and have assets you wish to protect, now and into the future, there is no better option than a Marriage Agreement.
That is, if it’s done properly.
That means both you and your intended spouse discussing each other’s needs and expectations as well as obtaining independent legal advice prior to signing.
Otherwise you may find like this former Mountie, they don’t always get their man, or woman!