Marital Contracts & Agreements

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Marital Contracts & Agreements

Whether you are starting or ending a relationship or marriage, a contract is an ideal vehicle for protecting your rights and interests.

A domestic contract, commonly known as a “pre-nup” is an invaluable tool in family law, and something that will save you stress, time, and money should your relationship come to an end.

A domestic contract is particularly useful when it comes to protecting your financial stake in a property that you are bringing into a marriage and which will, by virtue of the marriage itself, become the matrimonial home. At present, Ontario law does not entitle a party to recoup his or her down payment monies or full interest in a property that is occupied by married parties at the time of their separation.

A domestic contract also lets you and your partner set your own terms for the division of finances and property upon a breakdown of the marriage. For example, a domestic contract can stipulate that parties will not seek a share of each other’s marriage-era assets upon the breakdown of the relationship and that neither party will seek spousal support should the marriage end.

Ideally, you would never need to use your domestic contract; however, should your marriage come to an end, you can rest easy knowing that the heavy lifting has already been taken care of.

The most important starting point for the drafting of a good domestic contract is open communication between the parties, with each setting out in explicit terms their objective in drafting the agreement, and each party providing full financial disclosure. A family law attorney will ensure that the financial disclosure that you provide and receive is appropriate and that you have been fully apprised of your partner’s financial situation and end-of-relationship objectives.

The collaborative family law lawyers at Epstein & Associates are well versed in family law and drafting family law contracts. Please contact our office to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your domestic contract.

Cohabitation Agreement

Common law partners face a unique problem in Ontario, in that they are not afforded property rights.

In essence, unless you are on title to a property, the law does not recognize you as having any automatic legal claim to same. This makes a cohabitation agreement especially useful because it allows you to set out how you wish to separate your belongings upon the dissolution of the relationship, even to the point of electing to adopt the property scheme from the Family Law Act.

A cohabitation agreement also allows you to set out the financial interests and obligations agreed to by the parties in a relationship, including support obligations. If you and your partner have children from previous relationships, a cohabitation agreement can also address child support, allowing you to leave a relationship with peace of mind, knowing that your interests are protected and that you will not have a legal battle ahead of you.

Cohabitation agreements may also be set up in such a way that if you and your partner decide to marry, the agreement will survive as a marriage contract.

The family law lawyers at Epstein & Associates are experienced in family law and crafting cohabitation agreements. Please contact our office to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your domestic contract.