Habib & Associates
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Family Law

Marriage & Cohabitation Agreement


Marriage & Cohabitation Agreements

About one in every two marriages will end in a divorce. The rate of breakdown of unmarried relationships is even higher. Although you love the person you are living with and probably expect the relationship to be permanent, it’s prudent to make plans about how things will unfold in the event it comes to an end.

Many of us do not want to imagine that the relationship will ever end, or that we could disagree about how to settle finances if we do break up with our partner. Many of us don't realize just how essential creating a financial agreement with the person we're in a relationship with can be. 

Married couples can enter into marriage contracts.

With our assistance writing your own contract allows you to divide property in the way that best suits you even if it isn't what the law provides for married or non-married couples. For instance, although Ontario law doesn't include an automatic division of property between unmarried spouses, you can write a cohabitation agreement that would give you the same property rights as if you were married.

Compared to going to court and asking a judge to make decisions about your relationship, creating your own contract in advance is a more certain and less expensive way to determine the financial implications of a break-up. 

Cohabitation Agreements

Cohabitation agreements are similar contracts for unmarried spouses. These contracts allow you to make legal decisions about your rights in a relationship and decide how you want to arrange your finances if your relationship ends.

The parties to a cohabitation agreement, as established by s. 53(1) of the Ontario Family Law Act, may be, "Two persons who are cohabiting or intend to cohabit and who are not married to each other". By including the words, "intend to cohabit", this provision allows the parties to enter into their agreement before cohabitation commences.

A cohabitation agreement will be deemed to be a marriage contract under s. 53(2) of the Family Law Act where the parties marry and the cohabitation agreement does not specify that it ceases to apply upon marriage.

Management of Property in One Spouse's Name

If, on the other hand, a common law couple operates in a financially interdependent manner, perhaps because they have children or for other reasons, they should enter into a cohabitation agreement that provides for how they will share property that accumulates in one spouse’s name. During their relationship, couples will need to ensure that the decisions they make about children, career, retirement, purchasing property, spending and saving, reflect their agreement.

Stability and certainty

Couples who wish to add an element of stability and certainty to their union can enter into a contractual agreement that will resolve many of their personal and financial issues. This agreement can finalize the terms of a relationship that often create conflict and, when times are difficult, can be difficult to discuss.

There are certain issues that cannot be addressed in a marriage or cohabitation agreement including parenting rights and, for married couples, rights relating to possession, financing or sale of the matrimonial home.

Cohabitation and marriage agreements give couples the security of knowing that conflict will be minimized in the event their relationship runs into challenges. These agreements are appropriate for many couples in all stages of life, but are often sought by individuals entering into second or subsequent relationships.

Throughout the process, our team of family lawyers will ensure that your views are considered and your questions are answered.

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