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Relationship contracts are becoming increasingly common

Anyone wishing to commit to a long term relationship will want to come to agreement with the other partner concerning reproductive, financial and other long term goals. We also would wish to take into consideration lifestyle issues such as how many children we want to have, what kind of pets we will own, etc. Marital contracts are becoming increasingly popular because these documents can be used to iron out these concerns.

Still, there is not a great deal of case law concerning enforceability of these contracts. Whether a contract can be legally enforced is largely dependent upon the subject matter and whether the provisions involve broader principles as opposed to matters that may be considered relatively petty.

Marital contracts need to be worded precisely. Judges will not want to litigate on a number of lifestyle issues - especially if the language in the agreement is unclear as to what was intended. These contracts must make clear what the consequences would be if the agreement is breached and it must be specific as to how such breaches should be remedied.

There are three types of marital and relationship type contracts

  1. Prenuptial agreements: agreements written prior to a marriage taking place.
  2. Post-nuptial agreements: agreements written after the couple has married or formed a civil union.
  3. Cohabitation agreements - agreements made by couples that are not contemplating marriage but are still involved or planning on being involved in a long term relationship.

Again, care needs to be taken when preparing these agreements. To minimize the possibility of mistake and making certain that nothing is left out of such an agreement it's a good idea to speak to an experienced family law attorney anytime that you are considering drafting a marital agreement or cohabitation contract.

Attorneys can draft these agreements in a manner that terms can be modified at a later day in the event of changed circumstances. They can also make certain that any relatively minor issues can piggyback onto larger issues as well. A professionally worded contract can bring assurance to both parties.

Source: My Fox 9, "Should you enter a marriage contract?" March 6, 2014

Click here to watch Christa's interview on Fox 9

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