Do you need a Pre-nup?

Are you getting married or moving in this year with your partner? Have you bought a condo or house with your boyfriend or girlfriend? Take the practical approach and have a ‘pre-nuptial’ agreement drafted.

If you are getting married this year it is a good idea to have a lawyer draft a marriage contract. Alternatively, if you are planning on living with your partner it is a good idea to have a lawyer draft a cohabitation agreement.

Many people assume that the same law applies to common law couples as it does to married couples, however this is not the case.  Common law couples do not have the same rights to share in property as do married couples in Ontario.  As well, people often assume that if you keep separate accounts while you are married that property and debts are not shared, which is also untrue.  Family law is a complicated area of the law in which you should seek the advice of a knowledgeable family law lawyer to discuss your particular circumstances so that a tailored agreement can be prepared for you.

One way a cohabitation agreement can protect spouses is by spelling out what property can be split and how it will be split. It can also spell out how spousal support will be handled, and how joint debts will be paid. Cohabitation agreements offer the same protection to common law couples that prenuptial agreements, or marriage contracts, do for couples who are tying the knot. A cohabitation agreement can turn into to a marriage contract if a cohabiting couple marries in the future.

To get a cohabitation agreement, each partner must retain their own lawyer. Without independent legal advice, an agreement isn’t likely to hold up in court in the event of a separation.  This means that both parties cannot go to the same lawyer. Each partner gives full financial disclosure explaining all of their debts, as well as their assets. Neither partner can be forced into signing a cohabitation agreement.

If you are looking to have a contract such as this drafted prior to your wedding or house purchase please contact our office for more information.


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