When people think of a prenuptial agreement, they often bring up stereotypical images of wealthy spouses seeking to protect themselves during their inevitable divorces. But this stereotype fails to realistically portray the usefulness of premarital agreements.
You don’t have to be rich to have a desire to protect your savings and the property you’ve worked hard to acquire. And just because you decide a premarital agreement might be right for you doesn’t mean you want the marriage to fail or believe that it will.
As society continues to change and evolve, more and more people are entering into their second or third marriages. This is where marriage contracts become increasingly important, as there may be children from prior marriages who may not be entitled to certain assets if a marriage contract is not in existence. If you need help deciding whether a prenup is right for you, call a prenuptial agreement lawyer at our firm to discuss the specifics of your case.
Sometimes, two people will enter into a contract prior to marriage, setting out rules about their marriage, and what will happen in the event of marriage breakdown. In the US, these agreements are commonly referred to as prenuptial agreements. In Canada, prenups are more commonly referred to as “domestic contracts” or “marriage contracts.”
Additionally, two persons may either prior to or during cohabitation enter into a cohabitation agreement. If two persons who are cohabitating later get married, then their cohabitation agreement will become a domestic contract.
Typically, a marriage contract is drawn up by a family law lawyer in advance of a marriage, and outlines an agreement on matters such as:
There are a number of benefits to a prenup.
These assets could include:
Despite the American term prenup (short for pre-nuptial) domestic contracts can be created at any point in a relationship. There is no legal reason why a domestic contract needs to be finalized before marriage or cohabitation. Domestic contacts can be created if one person comes into a considerable sum of money (such as inheritance) during the marriage or cohabitation and wants to protect it. Even so, many lawyers say that it is a good idea to start discussing a domestic contract before you move in together or get engaged. This may seem unrealistic (and unromantic) but putting the idea out on the table as soon as you know the relationship is serious is a good rule of thumb.
A court is bound by the agreement unless a judge sets it aside because, for example, it violates Ontario law.Judges rely on a marriage contract in determining support and property issues if a case comes before them, providing that the marriage contract is not blatantly one-sided. Judges have been known to set aside marriage contracts where one spouse clearly has taken a huge advantage over the other.
We’ve helped happy couples draft marriage contracts that are fair to both parties, and will pass scrutiny by a judge if worst comes to worst. If you’re considering a prenuptial agreement or have already made your decision you’re invited to call or email us. We’ll explain for free how you can protect your assets and plan your estate.
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