When you’re a starry-eyed bride or groom to be, the last thing you want to think about is Divorce. Real Talk: 50% of marriages end in divorce, and things can get ugly VERY quickly, especially when it comes to dividing up money and assets. You each want what you feel you’re entitled to (and maybe a bit more for your trouble), and often those entitlements overlap. Fighting tooth-and-nail over finances is a very expensive venture that could very well leave you with empty pockets.
The solution is a Marriage Contract, more commonly known as a Pre-Nuptial Agreement or a “Pre-Nup”. A Marriage Contract is a legal contract between spouses, and is written prior to the date of marriage. It typically addresses financial issues, including the management of assets and debts during the marriage, and how they will be managed should the marriage break up. A common goal of a Marriage Contract is to document an agreement that, upon divorce, each spouse will keep the assets they had before entering into the marriage.
Despite what you may have heard, Marriage Contracts are not just for celebrities and multi-millionaires. What goes into a Marriage Contract is up to you- ultimately, it is a (legally enforceable) promise you make to each other, and its content will vary depending on your circumstances. Once you have agreed to the content of the Contract, you and your spouse each need to separately obtain Independent Legal Advice by consulting a Family Law Lawyer to ensure that you fully understand what you are agreeing to. If you skip this step, a court may invalidate your Marriage Contract due to “unfair pressure”; that is, that your spouse didn’t understand what they were signing and that you took unfair advantage. Save yourself time, money and frustration by making sure you do it right the first time. If your circumstances change, your Contract can be altered by way of an addendum or cancellation.
Marriage Contracts are a sensitive topic that many couples don’t want to discuss. Besides- your marriage is going to last, right? Maybe. Maybe not. One thing is certain: discussing and agreeing to a plan to deal with your assets in case of divorce isn’t pessimistic- it’s smart. Emotions aside, marriage is a legal merging of assets. It’s up to you to take action to protect yours. It’s like the old adage says: better safe than sorry.
For more information on divorce and other family law matters, please visit MyOntarioDivorce.com or BermanBarristers.com.