Marriage is generally a fun and exciting time for couples. It signifies a commitment between two people to spend the rest of their lives together. For some people, they keep this commitment for their entire lives. Others however, may decide they do not want to continue this commitment.
It's hard to imagine breaking up and going your separate ways when you are thinking about getting married. However, thinking about this possibility early may help you avoid legal battles and other frustrations associated with separation in the future. One way to avoid the headaches that come with a separation or divorce is to create a marriage contract.
As mentioned earlier this year in The Globe and Mail, marriage contracts are growing in popularity, especially among millennials. Also known as prenuptial or postnuptial agreements - as they are called in the U.S. - marriage contracts can help you and your partner sort out your affairs before or shortly after you decide to get married.
A marriage contract can outline items such as division of property (excluding the matrimonial home, which has specific legislation already), assets, debts, and many other items included in a shared life. Discussing these items when you’re calm and clear-headed – as opposed to hurt or frustrated during an actual breakdown of a relationship – can help you create a rational, reasonable agreement both parties can live with. And generally speaking, while you can still contest the terms of a marriage contract, most parties are more likely to agree to the terms if they helped create them.
For couples that don’t want to get married, they may also create a similar domestic contract, known as a cohabitation agreement, as well. However, it’s important to note that for both married and common-law couples, their agreements cannot contradict existing legislation, or contain unreasonable terms.
If you have questions about creating a marriage contract, it’s best to consult with an experienced family lawyer. He or she will be able to assist you with customizing a contract that’s best suited to your relationship.