Domestic Contracts: Making Break-Ups A Little Easier (Part 1 of 3)

When a marriage-like relationship breaks down, discussions on separation issues don’t need to descend into contentious exchanges of “I want this” and “You can’t have that”. Drafting a domestic contract can often minimize such conflict. This post is the first in a three-part series to highlight what every couple should know when creating a domestic contract.

What Is A Domestic Contract?

These legal instruments set out in advance a couple’s decisions regarding legal, financial and practical matters. When the relationship ends, it’s much more likely both parties will accept the terms of a separation that they themselves helped to create.

In Ontario, guidelines for these contracts are outlined in the Family Law Act and provide for both married and unmarried couples. Contracts typically cover areas such as:

  • Property and ownership
  • Spousal support
  • Some childcare issues

We’ll go over these areas in our next posts, Parts 2 and 3 of this series. Meanwhile, the first steps include determining what type of contract to use and how to make it legally binding.

The Right Contract

The three most common types of domestic contracts include:

  • Marriage Contract Also known as prenuptial agreements, these apply to married couples from the time of the marriage all the way to its dissolution (either by separation, annulment or death).
  • Cohabitation Agreement For unmarried couples who are about to or who currently live together in a marriage-like relationship, the agreement lasts until the couple separates, marries (upon which, the agreement is recognized as a marriage contract) or one of them passes away.
  • Separation Agreement Provides for couples who lived together but who have decided to live apart and need to decide on post-relationship issues.

Before Signing On The Dotted Line

In order for a domestic contract to be considered valid and legally enforceable, the signing parties should make sure to check off all the below:

  • The document is made in writing, signed by both parties and witnessed.
  • Parties who are minors need a court’s approval for the contract to be valid (approval can be obtained before or after the contract is signed).
  • Mentally incapable parties need to have their guardian/attorney/trustee act on their behalf.

Once you’ve figured out which contract suits your situation, the next step is figuring out your rights and obligations. We’ll tackle these sometimes complex issues in our next posts.

Married or cohabiting? Call us.

Our lawyers can help.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

shameless self promotion

  • Quinn Ross Takes Office As President Of The Ontario Bar Association

    The Ontario Bar Association (OBA) is pleased to announce Quinn Ross as the 83rd President of the OBA.

    Ross, Managing Partner of The Ross Firm, with offices in Goderich, Kincardine and Stratford, has been an active member in senior roles on the OBA board since 2012.

    Read More

  • Ross Firm Golf Tourney In Support of Huron Women’s Shelter a Swinging Success

    On behalf of the Huron Women’s Shelter and The Ross Firm P.C., we say “THANK YOU” to our many Sponsors and Donators for their outpouring of generosity and support for the annual Take a Swing Against Violence Golf Tournament held at Goderich Sunset Golf Club.

    Read More

  • Who needs a Will? You do!

    Our guests can explain why. Are you single and renting? A new Family? Or Homeowner? Enjoying your Golden Years? We all need a Will and our guest speakers will show you the why and the way.

    Read More

  • Take a Swing Against Violence

    On June 21, 2017, the Huron Women’s Shelter Second Stage Housing and Counselling Services, Board of Directors and The Ross Firm will be hosting the Taking a Swing Against Violence golf tournament at the Goderich Sunset Golf Course.

    Read More

View All

Send Us An Email. Talk To Us. We Can Help.

To schedule a consultation with one of our experienced lawyers, contact The Ross Firm online or give us a call toll free at 888-567-4917.

Contact Us

Goderich Office
144 Courthouse Square
Suite 100
Goderich, ON N7A 1M9

Toll Free: 888-567-4917
Fax: 519-524-8438
Map & Directions

Stratford Office
1 Ontario Street
2nd Floor
Stratford, ON N5A 3G7

Toll Free: 888-567-4917
Fax: 519-814-5533
Map & Directions

Kincardine Office
943 Queen Street
Kincardine, ON N2Z 2Y8

Phone: 226-396-5532
Fax: 226-396-5533
Map & Directions