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Considering a Marriage Contract (or Prenuptial agreements) or Cohabitation Agreement?

Marriage Contracts (more commonly referred to as Prenuptial Agreements or Prenup) are, in essence, a form of domestic contract that list the terms of the relationship as agreed between you and your spouse or partner. They can be made before the marriage or after the marriage. They are governed by the Family Law Act in Ontario and can include terms for such things as:

  • Spousal Support;
  • Property (with some exceptions); and,
  • Debts.

In some cultures, a Marriage Contract is more common and referred to as Mahr (Mehr or Mehrieh). However, enforcement of a Mahr in Ontario is more complex than execution of an Ontario-based Marriage Contract and, therefore, must be left to a later blog!

Cohabitation agreements are very similar to Marriage Contracts and relate to individuals who have entered a common-law relationship.

There are some terms that cannot be enforced even if they are listed in the Marriage or Cohabitation Agreement, such as terms relating to children and right to Matrimonial Home or Matrimonial Residence. However, both Ontario-based Marriage Contracts and Cohabitation Agreements come into effect at the time of separation and tells the parties how they are to deal with the issues they face. Like any contract, such domestic contracts may, in fact, help the parties in the beginning of the relationship to be on the same page and it may lessen some of the stresses and burdens during the breakdown of the relationship.