It is strongly advised that partners who plan to cohabit or marry seek legal advice and potentially enter into a contract to determine rights and obligations upon separation or death. This is particularly true if this is not a first marriage or common law relationship and if either party has significant assets.
The matrimonial home is given very special treatment for married couples under the Ontario Family Law Act. If you are planning to move into a home owned by you or your fiancé before or after your wedding, there are significant implications to your property rights upon marriage breakdown or death.
In Ontario, the Family Law Act gives parties the right to enter into a contract that governs their property and spousal support rights upon breakdown of the relationship which will override the rights and obligations under the Ontario Family Law Act or Federal Divorce Act.
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.
Terms of a marriage or cohabitation agreement can be negotiated through mediation or solicitor negotiation. In either case, disclosure and independent legal advice are crucial to ensure the agreement is not vulnerable to future attempts to set the agreement aside.