In Ontario a marriage contract is better known as a Domestic Contract. There is a special section in Ontario’s Family Law Act that deals with Domestic Contracts. These include marriage contracts, cohabitation agreements and separation agreements. Prenups are domestice contracts.
Many people decide not to sign a marriage contract before they get married for a variety of reasons. For example many have told me that they do not want to ask their future spouse to sign a prenup because that would be a prediction that their marriage may not be forever. Whatever the reason, there are those couples that do not think it necessary to have a Marriage Contract.
However, many perople do determine after they have tied to knot that they should have a marriage contract. It is not too late.
A Domestic Contract is just that. It is a contract which essentially is an agreement between two people signed voluntarily after having been negotiated in good faith and hopefully with independent legal advice. There are many good reasons to consider signing a contract after marriage. Financial circumstances change. Some people gain wealth. Some gain more debt than wealth. Many couples decide that their affairs need to be well determined and defined between them so that there are no surprises later in life no matter what occurs.
It is very important to remember that if you separate your property in a marriage contract you can still leave everything or as much as you want in your will to your spouse. You should think of your marriage contract as the document that governs your affairs during your marriage, and your will as the document that distributes your property wherever you want it to go upon your death.
Cohabitation Agreements apply to people who live together without getting married. Separation Agreements are the documents that are signed after you spend thousands of dollars on a lawyer to fight for money, property and children, and are usually only necessary because you did not think it was important to have a Marriage Contract.
Steven M Bookman is an experienced family lawyer with offices in Toronto, Ontario. He can be reached at 416-488-2243 or at [email protected]. Visit the firm’s web site at www.bookmanlaw.com.