What is a Marriage Contract
A marriage contract, also known as a prenuptial agreement or prenup, is a written agreement between married spouses; it is a type of domestic contract. For a marriage contract to be legal, it must be in writing, signed by both spouses, and witnessed. If you and your spouse want to end or cancel the marriage contract, the same rules must be followed – it must be in writing and signed by both spouses before a witness.
When can spouses enter a marriage contract?
A marriage contract can be entered either before the marriage or during the marriage.
What can a marriage contract contain?
Generally, parties to a marriage contract are free to choose the contents of the marriage contract. It can be very basic, or complex and detailed. The parties can agree on each others’ rights and obligations during marriage, if they were to separate or divorce and/or upon the death of one of the parties. A marriage contract can contain the following:
- Ownership/division of property and debts;
- Spousal obligations;
- Certain aspects of dealing with children (education, religion etc.); and
- Any other matter which the parties fell they need to be included.
What can’t a marriage contract contain?
Marriage contract cannot contain any clauses relating to the custody or access of children upon separation or divorce. Any decisions related to the custody or access of children must be made in a separation agreement, at the time of separation which must be based on the best interests of the child(ren).
Upon separation, each spouse has an equal right to live in the matrimonial home. A marriage contract also cannot change that.
What is a Cohabitation Agreement
A cohabitation agreement is another type of domestic contract and is a written agreement between unmarried common-law partners. It is a prenuptial agreement for people who are not married. For a cohabitation agreement to be legal, it must be in writing, signed by both spouses, and witnessed. If you and your partner want to end or cancel the cohabitation agreement, the same rules must be followed – it must be in writing and signed by both partners before a witness.
When can partners enter a cohabitation agreement?
A cohabitation agreement can be entered either before or during the time you are living together.
What can a cohabitation agreement contain?
As in a marriage contract, the parties to a cohabitation agreement are free to choose the contents of the cohabitation agreement. However, unlike married spouses, common-law spouses do not have any automatic rights to share property when they separate, therefore it is a good idea to include, or in other situations specifically preclude, a clause in relation to the property rights.
What can’t a cohabitation agreement contain?
Like a marriage contract, a cohabitation agreement cannot dictate which partner gets custody or access to any child(ren) upon separation. Any decisions relating to children must be made at the time of separation or divorce, based on what is in the best interests of the child.
What happens to my cohabitation agreement if my common-law partner and I get married?
If you and your common-law spouse decide to get married, a cohabitation agreement is not cancelled, unless cancelled in a written agreement, signed by both parties before a witness. Upon marriage to your common-law partner, your cohabitation agreement automatically becomes a legal marriage contract.