Domestic Contracts & Agreements

We help our clients negotiate and draft domestic contracts and agreements. Most importantly, we draft our agreements to make them enforceable so as to give you peace of mind. To increase the likelihood that an agreement will be enforceable, it should be drafted by someone with a comprehensive understanding of the law, the parties’ situation and needs.

Domestic contracts should not be entered into lightly. Whether a marriage contract, separation agreement, parenting agreement or other, a domestic contract can have a significant and long-lasting consequences.

When drafting contracts or agreements we take the time to thoroughly explain consequences of every part of an agreement.

Marriage contracts, sometimes called prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, are domestic contracts or agreements entered into prior to a marriage/relationship breakdown.

Marriage contracts are used to pre-decide certain rights and responsibilities in the event of a marriage breakdown. Marriage contracts set out a mutual understanding, based on the information currently available, of how you will divide your property or address spousal support in the event of a marriage breakdown.

There are many issues that, even if addressed in a marriage contract, are unenforceable, such as a waiver of child support, custody, access, and parenting decisions, and in certain circumstances spousal support waivers.

Marriage contracts should be accompanied by full financial disclosure. Marriage contracts that are not accompanied by full financial disclosure may encounter enforceability issues. Similarly, if an agreement is not reasonable, or was not negotiated fairly, it may not be enforceable. That is why it is important that you seek the advice of a family lawyer when contemplating drafting a marriage contract.

If you are not married but want to have an agreement that provides for your rights and obligations for you and your common law spouse, you can enter into a cohabitation agreement. The main purpose of a cohabitation agreement is to financially protect a couple if the couple chooses to live together without being married. The agreement usually sets out the spouses’ ownership in and/or division of property, and their support obligations. Similar to marriage contracts, a cohabitation agreement cannot determine the rights of custody or access to children.

Unlike married spouses, there is no legislative scheme for the division of property for unmarried spouses (common law spouses). Common law spouses are not entitled to a share of the other’s property. A common law spouse who has not executed a cohabitation agreement must rely on equitable remedies to assert a claim against a property.