In Ontario, a marriage contract outlines how spouses’ issues will be resolved during and after their relationship. Those who are legally married to each other may enter into a marriage contract. According to Canadian divorce laws, marriage constitutes an equal partnership. If there is no contract, all assets are equally divided at the end of the marriage.
What Is A Marriage Contract?
Marriage contracts are agreements signed before or after marriage defining how property will be divided if the couple separates and divorces or dies.
Marriage contracts (prenuptial agreements) are domestic contracts governed by Ontario’s Family Law Act.
Here are some common myths about marriage contracts:
- A marriage contract must be signed before the wedding ceremony.
- There is always an unfair advantage for one party.
- There is a perception that it is “only for the wealthy/rich”.
- This destroys love and introduces money into married life unnecessarily.
Whereas, it is impossible for either party to be unjustly treated under the terms of a solid marriage contract. Many financial issues, especially in the case of a second marriage, should be addressed in advance. There are many instances in which this reduces the financial pressure on the parties.
Here are three things you should know about marriage contracts in Ontario.
1) Plan Ahead For Marriage Contract
Preparing it can take a long time, especially if it involves a lot of paperwork. In the event that you choose to go with a contract, starting the process should be at the top of your “to-do” list as soon as you become engaged. There are many steps that might not be obvious at first. Among the necessary steps are financial disclosure, meetings with your lawyer to discuss legal consequences, negotiations, and contract drafting. It can take several months to complete this process.
2) Separate Lawyer For Spouse
Make sure you consider hiring a lawyer for your partner as well. You and your partner cannot be represented by the same lawyer in the same contract draft. As soon as you contact a lawyer, that lawyer is not able to assist or advise your partner on any legal matters. It might be difficult to get your spouse to get their own attorney, but arguably, it is in their best interest to do so. Investing in a legal advisor who can provide independent legal advice can protect you from having your contract torn up. Additionally, having a family law divorce lawyer on your side may ensure that the process goes more smoothly.
3) Disclosure of Financial Information
Financial disclosures must be exchanged between you and your partner. Typically, the disclosure includes information about income, assets, and liabilities. The first step is to prove your income by providing income tax returns, notices of assessment, t-slips, and paystubs. Furthermore, asset and liability declarations can be accompanied by screenshots of account balances along with monthly statements. If a business interest is complex, for example, a formal appraisal may be needed. Ontario’s Family Law Act allows contracts to be revoked if significant assets and debts are not disclosed at the time of signing.
How We Can Help With Your Marriage Contract?
We at Hussain Law provide tailored legal advice and can guide you in the right direction when it comes to drafting a marriage contract. An experienced family law lawyer can help you to navigate through the complexities of drafting a contract or a cohabitation agreement, which may have many legal complexities, and can help you to draft them in the best way possible. If you have a family law issue or want to prepare for divorce that you need assistance with, please contact Ayesha Hussain for Divorce in Ontario at 647-428-3919.