Several legal and financial issues can arise when a couple gets married or begins to live together in a common-law relationship. These issues can destabilize a union or marriage if they are not addressed and resolved early. One example is asset distribution. Today, many people sign a marriage contract (also known as a prenuptial agreement) before getting married, especially if it is their second or third marriage or they are marrying later in life. This agreement is usually meant to not only protect the assets they have brought into the marriage, such as investments, retirement savings, and homes, but to also protect future assets.
A prenup in Canada is called a marriage contract. Let’s review how marriage contracts work here and how Ottawa Family Lawyers can help you draft one that best protects your interests.
What Is a Marriage Contract?
A marriage contract is a formal agreement between two people who intend to get married or are married. Essentially, it covers issues concerning property and asset distribution and establishing whether a spouse will receive spousal support after separation, for example.
It can also be used to exclude from property division the assets the spouses owned before the marriage, particularly a home – which could become the matrimonial home during the marriage. In Ontario, for married couples, the Divorce Act governs property division matters. If two spouses separate or get divorced, the Act governs how property is divided. A marriage agreement allows couples to contract out of parts of the Divorce Act and make their own decisions about how property and income is divided..
Contents of a Marriage Agreement
The content of a marriage agreement will usually include provisions for asset distribution and spousal support. A properly drafted agreement should consist of the following:
- It is presented in writing and is signed and witnessed
- It is clear and accurate
- Each spouse had legal representation during the negotiation and drafting process.
- Both parties have equal bargaining power, i.e., there was no duress or undue influence.
- Both parties disclosed their full liabilities, debts, and assets.
How Can a Lawyer Help?
Lawyers are very helpful in all family law negotiations, especially those involving financial decisions. A lawyer can provide you with the legal advice you need to make informed decisions about your marriage agreement. Additionally, they can ensure the agreement is drafted properly and is, thus, legally binding.
Talk to an Ottawa Family Lawyer
Marriage contracts can be as simple or complex as you would like them to be. If you are interested in protecting your assets, your income, and stabilizing your marriage, the Ottawa Family Lawyers at RPB Family Law are ready to help. We are dedicated to protecting you and your family and have extensive experience in a wide range of family law cases. Contact us today to learn how we can help.