Why Marriage Contracts?

A marriage contract (sometimes referred to as a prenuptial agreement) is a legally binding contract that parties who are married or who intend to marry may enter into to deal with their respective rights and obligations under the marriage or on separation. A marriage contract may address several issues, including:

  • Spousal support and child support
  • Ownership in and division of propert
  • How to handle debts and liabilities
  • How to handle future disputes (methods of dispute resolution)
  • The right to direct the education and moral training of their child(ren).

A marriage contract may not address:

  • Custody of or access to the child(ren).
  • Restricting a spouse’s right to equal possession of the matrimonial home.
  • Chastity – A provision in a domestic contract to take effect on separation whereby any right of a party is dependent upon remaining chaste is unenforceable.

If a marriage contract purports to deal with custody and access or limits a spouse’s possessory right to the matrimonial home, that particular provision of the contract will be deemed unenforceable. A domestic contract, including a marriage contract, will also be deemed to be unenforceable unless made in writing, signed by the parties and witnessed. The validity of a domestic contract, including a marriage contract, may be questioned and the contract ultimately set aside if the parties did not exchange full financial disclosure, obtain or have the opportunity to obtain independent legal advice or if one party was not given ample time to consider the terms of the contract before signing thereby signing the contract under duress or undue influence.