Benefits of Domestic Contracts in Ontario

A domestic contract is an agreement between domestic partners that can set out how they plan to deal with property and money both during and at the end of the relationship. You can enter into a domestic contract whether or not you are married. It is never too late to consider a domestic contract, even if your relationship is in the process of ending.

One of our Richmond Hill family and divorce lawyers may be able to explain the benefits of domestic contracts in Ontario in more detail, and help you determine whether a domestic contract is right for you.

Types of Domestic Contracts

A domestic contract, which could be a cohabitation agreement or a marriage agreement, generally sets out how domestic partners intend to deal with property during their relationship, and in the event the relationship ends in separation or in the death of one partner. Domestic partners often enter into these agreements to protect their partner in specific situations.

If you sign a cohabitation agreement and get married at a later date, your cohabitation agreement automatically becomes your marriage agreement. You can sign a marriage agreement at any time after you are married. It does not have to be negotiated at the beginning of your marriage.

A separation agreement sets out how domestic partners intend to deal with the breakdown of their relationship. They can be used to divide family property, provide for child and spousal support, and even deal with issues relating to children and parenting time. Our Richmond Hill Family and Divorce Lawyers may be able to help you navigate this potentially stressful process.

Why You Should Have a Domestic Contract

A domestic contract can go a long way to preventing conflicts from arising within your family, which can save everyone time, money, and stress. There are a number of benefits of domestic contracts in Ontario, but some specific situations in which a domestic contract can be helpful include:

  1. Providing protection for unmarried spouses: In Ontario, unmarried couples are not subject to the same rules for division of property as married couples. Unmarried or common-law couples can use a cohabitation agreement to opt-in to the provincial rules relating to the matrimonial home and the division of family property. Similarly, if an unmarried spouse dies without a will, the Ontario rules dealing with the deceased’s property make no accommodation for the surviving unmarried spouse. A cohabitation agreement can provide financial security for one spouse upon the death of the other.
  2. Providing for children from a previous relationship: People entering a new relationship when they already have children often want to be sure that the new relationship doesn’t hinder their ability to support their children and meet their existing responsibilities. A cohabitation agreement or marriage agreement can make it clear how the partners intend that these existing financial commitments will be met. This can be particularly important if you intend to have more children with your new spouse.

Ensure Your Domestic Contract is Valid

You can only enter into a domestic contract if both parties are willing and can agree on the terms. Ideally, you should have your family or divorce lawyer help you to draft your contract, and both parties should obtain independent legal advice (meaning they should each show the contract to a different lawyer who acts for them, not their partner), but these are not technical requirements. Any written document is legally binding provided it is signed by both parties, and witnessed.

Contact our Richmond Hill Family and Divorce Lawyers Today For a Consultation

Whether you are entering into a domestic partnership, in the middle of one, or in the process of a separation, a domestic contract might be able to offer peace of mind regarding property, finances, and more. Contact our Richmond Hill family and divorce lawyers today for more information on the benefits of domestic contracts in Ontario.

* Please note, this article is not legal advice, but rather a general overview of domestic contracts in Ontario. For specific information, as well as legal advice, please consult with a lawyer.