Once you have a draft of your relationship contract,
or at least a very good idea of how you would answer each Question,
you need to decide whether you want a legally-binding contract
—which will hold up in a court of law—
or a more informal agreement just between yourselves,
which you will not show to anyone else for interpretation and enforcement.

     You could also choose some combination of legal and informal contracts:
For example, you could have an informal agreement
concerning minor issues that are more private and personal between you.
And in addition, you could have a legally-binding contract
concerning major issues such as the division of property
if and when your partnership comes to an end.

     An informal agreement is just between yourselves.
You will write it in language that both of you understand.
There will be no strange or stilted legal language.
There will be no surprise provisions that got into the text
because your contract was copied from someone else's contract
or because it had to follow a prescribed legal format.

           A.  A Legal Contract.

     A legally-enforceable contract should be reviewed and revised
by two lawyers familiar with contract law in your jurisdiction.
And it might have to include provisions you do not fully understand
in order to be valid in the court system.
Lawyers have a special legal language.
Sometimes a single word has immense implications.
These meanings have been established by years of court interpretation.
But laypeople usually do not even notice
when they come across such key words in a contract.

     This is the basic reason you need legal advice
to create a legally-binding contract that will stand up in court.
You need two lawyers,
because one lawyer cannot represent both parties to a contract.
That would be a conflict of interest.
Contracting parties are seen by the law as adversaries,
each trying to get the best possible deal from the contract.
If you consult only one lawyer,
you must waive your right to legal representation in the contract.
(This is one of those legal phrases that could have profound implications.)

A LEGAL CONTRACT OR AN INFORMAL AGREEMENT?              by James Park               165

The page above begins PART VIII of Designer Marriage.
This PART has 6 pages, as indicated in the table of contents.

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Designer Marriage: Write Your Own Relationship Contract

Created December 23, 2009; Revised

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