Domestic Agreements, aka “pre-nups”


By Written on behalf of Campbell Bader LLP

Domestic Agreements in Mississauga

Family relationships are difficult to predict. It is difficult to trust your future to the uncertainty that arises with going to court if there is a breakdown in your relationship. Fortunately, family law in Ontario allows you to enter into an agreement with your partner which sets out what will happen if, in the future, you head towards a separation or divorce. Domestic agreements give you the ability to plan ahead and take control of your future.

Marriage Agreements

Marriage agreements are often called prenuptial agreements because they are generally executed prior to marriage. However, marriage agreements can also be entered into after the marriage has taken place. Marriage agreements typically provide for the division of assets and the provision of spousal support in the event of a separation, divorce or the death of one of the spouses. Issues of child custody and access cannot be addressed in the marriage agreement, but issues of education and moral training of the children and support can be addressed.

Cohabitation Agreements

An increasing number of couples are choosing to live together without getting married. These common-law couples face similar issues in the future as married couples should there be a breakdown in the relationship or should one party pass away. Cohabitation agreements function the same way as marriage contracts and address similar issues. Like marriage contracts, cohabitation agreements cannot determine issues of child custody and access. If the parties enter into a cohabitation agreement and later marry, the cohabitation agreement may automatically become a marriage agreement, if the agreement provides for this.

Separation Agreements

When relationships end, there are many issues for the parties to work out. The parties can choose to take their issues to court or they can consider entering into a separation agreement that sets out in detail a resolution of these issues. Separation agreements are usually negotiated with the assistance of lawyers who specialize in family law. Disputed issues may lend themselves to mediation or some form of Alternative Dispute Resolution. Independent legal advice for each party is recommended to ensure that each party is well advised of his or her rights and obligations, and strengthen the enforceability of the agreement. A separation agreement sets out the history of the relationship, the names and ages of any children of the relationship, child custody and access, child and spousal support, division of property and any other outstanding issues the parties may wish to resolve.

Paternity Agreements

Unmarried couples can enter into paternity agreements to set out their responsibilities for their child or children. The parents can agree to the paternity of the child, who will pay expenses related to the birth of the child and ongoing support for the child after birth. The agreements can also set forth who will pay funeral expenses for the mother or child.

Domestic agreements cover many important issues arising out of a relationship and its breakdown and should not be entered into without proper legal advice. A qualified family lawyer in Mississauga can help you navigate these issues and guide you through the process so that both parties are satisfied with the final arrangement. Domestic agreements help you take control of your future and provide for your family.


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