Marriage is not only a union of hearts but also an economic partnership. Under family law in Ontario, married couples have certain legal rights and obligations towards each other. However, couples may wish to implement a private agreement as it relates to their intentions going into the marriage, prior to the start of the marriage by forming a marriage contract.
A marriage contract is an agreement that sets out terms the parties agree to in regard to dealing with property or support and the protection of assets, amongst other issues. However, there are several misconceptions surrounding marriage contracts which can prevent couples from considering its benefits.
Myth 1: Must be signed prior to the date of marriage
A marriage contract can be signed either before or after the wedding ceremony. If the contract is signed before the wedding, it becomes effective on the day of the wedding, unless there are terms included which detail an arrangement during the party’s cohabitation. Alternatively, if the contract is signed after the wedding, the terms of the contract come into effect on the date when the contract was signed. In some instances, the contract may suggest when the provisions in the document are to take effect, such as referring back to the date of marriage.
Myth 2: Only necessary for parties acquiring a great deal of wealth
A marriage contract is designed for couples that want to divide their assets fairly, regardless of one’s economic status prior to the date of marriage. While many individuals initiate a marriage contract for the purpose of protecting their assets, there are many other reasons why one may want to enter into a marriage contract. Some reasons may include: (1) to avoid any preventable animosity; (2) to protect any family heirlooms; and (3) to eliminate unnecessary legal fees and judicial resources.
Myth 3: Destroy romance and unnecessarily introduce the topic of finance prior to marriage
Having an open and honest conversation about finances prior to getting married is crucial, as it can help set the foundation for a successful and harmonious marriage. Failing to do so can lead to potential disputes or legal consequences down the road. To avoid such issues, it is important to introduce the topic of a marriage contract early on. This may seem like an unromantic topic to bring up, but in reality, it can actually foster a sense of trust and transparency between partners.
Myth 4: Hiring a family lawyer to draft a marriage contract is not worth it
Attempting to draft a marriage contract without the help of a lawyer may result in errors and oversights that render the contract unenforceable or unfair to one party. Therefore, it is important to seek the assistance of a family law lawyer to help draft a comprehensive and legally binding marriage contract.
A family law lawyer is trained and experienced in understanding the legal requirements and nuances of marriage contracts, as well as the potential legal issues that may arise during or after the marriage. They can help ensure that the contract is fair and legally enforceable and can also provide valuable advice on how to structure the contract to meet the unique needs and circumstances of both parties.
Blackburn Lawyers is made up of a team of dedicated lawyers who are pleased to offer support as you embark on this new journey in life. If you and/or a loved one have any questions about formulating a marriage contract, please contact our family law lawyers today.
Disclaimer: This blog sets out a variety of information relating to the law that is to be used for educational purposes and is not legal advice for your particular situation. The author(s) of this blog do not intend the blog to be a source of legal advice.
Written by: Adriana Totera