I Want My Partner To Sign A Marriage Contract ' How Can I Make Sure This Will Stand Up In Court?

Published date01 June 2023
Subject MatterFamily and Matrimonial, Family Law, Divorce
Law FirmDevry Smith Frank LLP
AuthorMr John Schuman

Marriage evokes thoughts of fairy tale romance, soulmates, and lifelong commitment and devotion to your partner. So, it can be awkward when you have to ask the love of your life to sign an agreement anticipating the end of your relationship. A marriage contract is a legal document signed by both spouses which defines how your family property will be divided and what support will be provided to you, your spouse, and your children following divorce or the death of a spouse.

Although marriage contracts are criticized as being unromantic and uncomfortable, they are far from impractical. Even when the court system was paralyzed by COVID-19 in 2020, there were over 42,000 divorces granted in Canada. As with our previous discussion about the benefits of cohabitation agreements for common-law partners, there are many benefits to having a marriage contract. Marriage contracts provide for increased certainty, flexibility, and customization within the current legislative regime; for the protection of your assets; and helps to prevent lengthy, bitter, and expensive court battles. However, there are several limitations and restrictions when it comes to enforcing these contracts. This leaves many people wondering at the end of their relationship: is my marriage contract actually enforceable? Here are five things to consider:

  1. When Do I Have to Sign a Marriage Contract?

Although the name implies that you must be married, you do not have to wait until marriage to sign a marriage contract. Marriage contracts are available to married couples and couples who intend to marry; however, for the latter, the contract does not come into effect until the date of marriage. Likewise, you are free to sign a marriage contract even years after marriage. If you are in a common law relationship and already have a cohabitation agreement, then that agreement will be deemed to be a marriage contract if you marry your common law partner.

  1. What are the Requirements for a Marriage Contract?

There are strict procedural guidelines that must be followed for a marriage contract to be enforceable. The document must be in writing, signed by the couple, and witnessed. This means that oral marriage contracts are not valid in Ontario.

  1. What Can Be Included in my Marriage Contract?

Marriage contracts can include terms related to the ownership in or division of property, support obligations, the education and moral training of the your children, and any other matter related to the settlement of the...

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