Preparing a Cohabitation Agreement

For a cohabitation agreement to be resilient, both parties should get legal advice, or have the opportunity to seek legal advice. The three most common approaches are:

  •  Having an Accredited Family Law Mediator prepare an agreement, and both parties having the opportunity to seek independent advice.
  •  Having one party hire a lawyer to draft the agreement, and the other hiring a lawyer to review the agreement.
  •  Each party hiring a lawyer to negotiate the Agreement.

Most people have a good idea about how they want to arrange things in their relationships. For example, they may decide to keep all of their finances separate unless they have children. Accredited Family Law Mediators are really good at taking what the parties have already decided and “making things legal”.

It is also important to remember that not all mediators have significant legal training. An Accredited Family Law Mediator is often a lawyer who practices mediation.

Having one person hire a lawyer to draft the Agreement can create a one sided Agreement. The protection against this is to have the other person hire a lawyer to review the Agreement.

When you use a mediator, they are impartial and their only goal is to prepare a fair and reasonable agreement that meets the needs of both parties.

Hiring two lawyers is the best approach when you are dealing with large, complicated assets, or there are children from a previous relationship. This is also the most expensive approach.

In terms of total cost, the Accredited Family Law Mediator is the most cost effective approach and generally costs around $1500. This is generally split between the parties. There are additional costs if each party hires a lawyer to review any final agreement.

Using one lawyer to draft and one lawyer to review the Agreement will normally run around $3,000. Using two lawyers will cost between $3000 and $10,000.

The approach used for your Cohabitation Agreement will depend on your specific circumstances.  Money spent at this stage can save thousands later. As the old saying goes, “people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan”.

Michael Butterfield

Collaborative Lawyer & Mediator

Areas of Practice: Family law including separation, divorce, mediation, arbitration, child & spousal support, support variations, guardianship, parenting time, access, property division and more.

Victoria BC