Drafting Effective Cohabitation Agreements And Marriage Contracts

Getting married is a joyous occasion. It signals that you are ready to enter into a long-term commitment with another person. Marriage and cohabitation, however, come with legal obligations. From the perspective of the law, your property rights change as soon as you marry.

Many couples choose to enter into an agreement that outlines what will happen if the relationship ends. Outside of Canada, this is sometimes called a "prenup" or "prenuptial agreement." In Ontario, we call this a marriage contract or cohabitation agreement.

At my law practice, Judith Holzman Law Offices in Vaughan, Ontario, I represent people who want to negotiate a domestic contract with their spouse. More than 40 years in practice, I have gained more than substantial legal knowledge; I have also seen the devastation caused by divorce. When you are looking to start anew, I can tell you what to discuss with your partner now to prevent heartache later.

Benefits Of Domestic Contracts

Common law spouses do not have the same property rights as married people if the relationship ends. Under Ontario and Canadian law, married people can claim a share of marital assets and spousal support. Common law partners do have support rights, but they are not the same as for married couples. In addition, they may or may not be able to make a successful claim for the property. In a marriage, one spouse cannot be kicked out of the marital home; cohabiting partners do not have that protection.

For partners who choose to remain unmarried, a cohabitation agreement can provide a legal safety net in case the relationship ends. A couple can decide how assets and debts will be distributed, both during cohabitation and afterward. If a common law couple marries, their cohabitation agreement automatically becomes a marriage contract.

Although married people have specific rights under law, there is still much to be resolved during divorce. A marriage contract can help finalize these issues early on, while the couple is still in a place where they are committed to the relationship. Issues such as spousal support and property division are common in a marriage contract.

Under Ontario law, child custody and child support may not form part of a marriage contract or cohabitation agreement.

Serving York Region And Newmarket: Marriage Contract Lawyer

If you are considering a domestic contract with your partner, get in touch with my office. I can help you assess if taking this step is right for you.

Contact my office online or call me at 905-303-1070 (Vaughan) or 416-977-3050 (Toronto) or 866-233-0945 (Canada toll free) to schedule a consultation. A lawyer in Vaughan, I advise on cohabitation agreements, marriage contracts and other family law issues in Ontario.