In Ontario, your marriage is treated by the law as an equal economic partnership. You may feel that the family laws in Ontario do not suit your relationship in the event of a future separation. Therefore, the family laws in Ontario permit you to make other arrangements by way of marriage contracts.
The family laws in Ontario recognize marriage contracts as a binding legal document. Contracts primarily allow you to specify property that you are bringing into the marriage and how you will divide common property in the event that your marriage ends. In a marriage contract you may provide that property is not divided equally upon separation but divided in accordance with the wishes expressed in the contract.
A contract in Ontario can include clauses regarding prenup how support payments are made if your marriage ends. It can also provide plans for the education and religious upbringing of future children.
However, in Ontario some clauses in a contract will not be enforceable. Clauses dealing with custody and access of children in the event of separation cannot be included in the marriage contract. In addition, any clauses in a contract dealing with the right to live in the matrimonial home are not enforceable. Upon the breakdown of a marriage, both spouses have the right to remain in the matrimonial home regardless of what a marriage contract says.
Because marriage contracts are legally binding documents in Ontario, it is important that both spouses have independent legal advice. This means the husband and wife should each have a different family lawyer review any contract with him or her. If you fail to get independent legal advice, the validity of the contract could be challenged in the event of separation. In addition, a family lawyer will ensure that the document is signed and witnessed properly. Failure to have the agreement properly signed and witnessed could also result in challenges to the validity of the marriage contract in the event of separation.