Mississauga Family Lawyer Advising Clients on Marriage Contracts
Although many people prefer not to think about the breakdown of a marriage before that marriage even begins, a marriage contract (also known as a pre-nuptial agreement or pre-nup) is becoming increasingly commonplace for couples who want to protect themselves going into a marriage or to protect extended family contributions to a marriage, such as the cost of a first home.
If you are considering getting a marriage contract before you tie the knot, it is crucial for you to consult with a lawyer before finalizing or signing anything. Ginny Lee, acting in her capacity as of counsel* to Bader Law, helps couples draft a marriage contract that reflects their mutually agreed needs and obligations. She can also advise cohabiting or common-law couples about their legal rights and duties and assist in drafting cohabitation agreements that reflect their relationship.
Advantages of a Marriage Contract
A marriage contract can be used to not only protect individuals in the event that a relationship ends, but can also save time, money, and significant emotional stress, and may make a separation or divorce significantly less messy.
Marriage contracts can address any number of important matters between couples, including issues that often become highly contentious at the end of a relationship, such as property division or spousal support. Other things that may be addressed in a marriage contract include:
- Rights to pre-marriage property and other assets;
- Ownership of property purchased during the marriage;
- Protection from pre-marital debt, loans, and other financial obligations incurred by your spouse;
- Division of debt accumulated during the course of the marriage; and
- Variations to spousal support payments.
Importantly, marriage contracts cannot generally:
- Outline which spouse will get custody of any children;
- Delineate terms of access to any children; or
- Limit the rights of a spouse to live in a matrimonial home.
In order to be valid under the law, marriage contracts in Ontario must be made after both parties have made a full and frank financial disclosure. This means that it may be set aside if one partner fails to disclose significant assets, debts, or other liabilities.
Who May Want to Consider a Marriage Contract?
At Bader Law, we recommend that every couple have a marriage contract in place. That being said, some couples may benefit more from such an agreement. For example, if one spouse has a high net worth or is bringing significant assets or property in to the marriage, or in the alternative, if one spouse has a large amount of debt. Any discrepancy in wealth is best addressed through a marriage contract: both spouses can ensure their rights are protected by negotiating a fair agreement.
Another situation that lends itself to having a marriage contract is any relationship where one spouse intends to sacrifice their career or earning potential to provide childcare and other household support. An agreement can mitigate any potential economic disadvantage that could result from the arrangement, if a couple were to divorce, without the need for an expensive court process.
Business owners, entrepreneurs, and professionals who run a firm or practice should also consider obtaining a marriage contract, since, in certain situations where there is no pre-nup, a spouse can claim an interest in the business.
At the end of the day, whether or not to have a marriage contract is a deeply personal and common-sense business decision, best made after you obtain guidance from a family lawyer.
Trusted Family Lawyer Advising Couples on Marriage Contracts
At Bader Law in Mississauga, of counsel Ginny Lee offers effective advice for couples considering a marriage contract and can help you draft an agreement that helps provide financial security and peace of mind. To discuss your matter in confidence, contact Ginny Lee by email or by phone at (647) 767-5421.
*Note that Ginny Lee is an independent practitioner and not an employee of Bader Law.