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Toronto Family Lawyers Advising on Domestic Agreements

Domestic contracts (also known as domestic agreements) such as marriage contracts (also known as prenups), separation agreements and cohabitation agreements, can be made between common-law partners or spouses to address various matters that may arise during the course of a long-term relationship or marriage. These agreements can be used proactively to plan for contingencies and to address potential problems in advance of those problems arising.

At Baker & Company, our Toronto family lawyers have been assisting common-law partners and married spouses with a wide range of domestic agreements for more than 30 years. We focus on proactive risk management in a family law setting, with the goal of bringing our clients to where they want to be as amicably as possible and with minimum expense.

Marriage Contracts 

Marriage contracts, also known as prenuptial agreements or prenups, are contracts entered into by two partners who are intending to be married, or by spouses who are already married.

These contracts can outline the rights and obligations of each spouse during the marriage, or dissolution of the marriage (separation, annulment), or in the event of the death of one of the spouses.

Marriage contracts can address:

  • Property ownership;
  • Division of property; and
  • Spousal support obligations.

Marriage contracts cannot:

  • Limit a spouse’s entitlement to the matrimonial home;
  • Outline custody or access to children;
  • Outline child support obligations; or
  • Outline a parenting plan.

The above issues can only be addressed if a couple separates.

Separation Agreements 

Separation agreements are used to determine what happens in the event that married spouses or common-law partners separate.

Specifically, separation agreements can address:

  • Property ownership;
  • Division of property;
  • Spousal support obligations;
  • Child support obligations;
  • Custody and access to children; and
  • Any other matter that must be settled.

The benefits of entering into a separation agreement to resolve outstanding issues include:

  • Control over what is in your agreement (rather than leaving the resolution of outstanding issues to a judge);
  • Negotiation of a separation agreement can be less stressful and faster than going to court; and
  • Both parties may be more likely to follow the agreement since they collectively agreed to what was in it.

Cohabitation Agreements 

Cohabitation agreements are essentially like marriage contracts for individuals who are cohabitating or who intend to cohabitate with one another, but who are not married. These agreements address similar obligations and rights, including:

  • Ownership of property;
  • Division of property; and
  • Spousal support obligations.

Where two common-law partners, who have a cohabitation agreement in place, subsequently decide to get married, that cohabitation agreement can then become a marriage contract.

Finalizing Domestic Agreements 

Domestic agreements are not legal unless they are in writing, signed by both parties, and witnessed. Both parties should also obtain independent legal advice. Unless all of these conditions are met, a domestic agreement is unenforceable.

Importantly, where a couple’s (or former couple’s) situation changes, and any terms in the contract need to be changed or updated, those changes must also be made in writing, signed by both parties, and witnessed.

Baker & Company: Pragmatic and Strategic Guidance on Domestic Agreements 

At Baker & Company, we are committed to making family law matters, including domestic agreements, as clear and easy to understand as possible.  In all cases, we seek to represent your best interests and achieve the optimal result at the lowest possible cost. With our help, you can focus on yourself and your family because we will be focusing on answering your questions and resolving your issues. Call us at 416-777-0100 or contact us online for a consultation.

 

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Phone: 416-777-0100
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