Marriage Contracts and Cohabitation Agreements

Marriage contract and cohabitation agreement protect your rights in the event that your relationship or marriage does not work out.  In essence, a marriage contract or cohabitation agreement is a blueprint for how your marriage or relationship is going to be dissolved from a legal  perspective.

People today are getting married much later in life than ever before. Some people are even entering into second and third marriages. Often people are cohabiting with no intention of marrying or marrying at some future date.  It is not uncommon that the spouses-to-be have already accumulated some wealth prior to the marriage or cohabitation. Due to the high divorce rate, it is not uncommon that individuals wish to protect themselves.  Marriage contracts fulfill this need by permitting marrying spouses to carve out an asset or assets that they wish to maintain or not share in the event of the marriage breakdown or to make provisions for no spousal support in the event of a divorce.  Examples of assets to be removed from the net family property would be a pre-existing business or a home purchased by one spouse prior to the marriage.

Cohabitation agreements can prevent the other spouse from creating an interest in property or can address spousal support in the event of a breakdown of the relationship.

There is no requirement in Canadian law that a couple have a marriage contract, but if they do, the contract must meet certain criteria to be enforceable, the most important is full and frank financial disclosure.   Other criteria include that the contract should be in writing and the parties had independent legal advice.  The parties are at liberty to waive these criteria, however, this  may have an effect on the ability to set aside or not set aside a contract at a later date.  Signing a marriage contract under duress, such as an hour before the wedding ceremony, is not in itself a reason to find a marriage contract unenforceable, but it can be an element in an investigation to whether a marriage contract should or should not be set aside at a later date.

Protecting yourself, your future and your assets will increase your peace of mind. Contact Us at Heft Law for your No Fee 30 minute initial consultation about your marriage contract or cohabitation agreement.

In circumstances where the parties are getting married and a contract is being negotiated but not completed, at Heft Law, we can draft a Standstill Agreement.  This is an agreement where the parties agree that they will proceed with the marriage and will continue to negotiate their marriage contract, in good faith. If there is no agreement for a specified period of time, the parties agree that the Family Law Act and the Divorce Act provisions about the dissolution of a marriage do not apply for that period.  This permits the wedding to take place and the parties can continue to complete their marriage contract terms.

Marriage contracts and cohabitation agreements may seem unromantic, however, they provide a safety where uncertainty is a reality.

Contact Us at Heft Law for a No Fee 30-minute initial consultation.