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Marriage Contracts | Prenuptial Agreements
Cohabitation Agreements | Martial Agreements
Marriage Contract Requirements | Marriage Contract Definition
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A domestic contract is a legal agreement that sets out certain terms of a relationship, including each person’s rights and obligations during their relationship and when their relationship ends.

Domestic contracts are not just for the wealthy.

There are different types of domestic contracts recognized under the Family Law Act. Marriage contracts are for couples who are married or intend to marry. Cohabitation agreements are for couples who plan to live together or who already live together.

A valid domestic contract must be in writing, signed by both parties, these signatures must be witnessed and there must be full and frank financial disclosure of each party’s assets and liabilities. While it is not a legal requirement, it is strongly advisable for both parties to have independent legal advice.

A domestic contract can be set aside or overturned if:

(a) There was fraud, duress, or undue influence
(b) One party failed to provide full and honest financial disclosure
(c) One party failed to understand the contents, nature and consequences of the contract

Marriage Contracts

Marriage contracts are also referred to as “pre-nups” or prenuptial agreements.

If spouses separate without a marriage contract, their property and assets will be divided according to Ontario law. The Family Law Act views marriage as an equal economic partnership. Generally, upon separation there will be an equalization of net family property.

The most common issues addressed in a marriage contract are spousal support and property division. Marriage contracts give couples the ability to opt out of the Family Law Act and determine themselves how their property and debts will be divided.

A marriage contract cannot deal with parenting issues, such as custody and access of the children. Decisions regarding children are based on the best interests of the children and must be made at the time of separation.

Cohabitation Agreements

Cohabitation agreements are very similar to marriage contracts. Unlike married spouses, common-law spouses do not have an automatic right to share property and assets after separation. Cohabitation agreements can determine ownership of property and assets bought during the relationship, determine if and how much spousal support will be paid after separation and determine which party must leave the family home after separation.

A cohabitation agreement will automatically become a marriage contract if common-law spouses later marry. Like with marriage contracts, a cohabitation agreement cannot determine who has custody of or access to the children after separation.

How We Can Help

It is crucial to have a lawyer who understands the laws regarding domestic contracts and who can explain the legal requirements for a valid domestic contract. We can advise and represent you during negotiations and draft a domestic contract that best protects your rights and interests. Our family law counsel is well versed in negotiating and drafting domestic contracts.

Contact us for an initial consultation.

This page contains general legal information only and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice for your unique situation. If you require legal advice, please request an initial consultation with Gilbertson Davis LLP using the Request Consultation Form on this webpage or by contacting our Intake Coordinator on (416) 979-2020, ext. 223 (both subject to the Terms of Use described on our Contact page).