Family Law

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When you get married, the law treats your marriage as an equal economic partnership. If your marriage ends, the value of the property you acquired while you were married and the increase in the value of property you brought into your marriage will be divided in half: one half for you and one half for your husband or wife. There are exceptions to this rule.

The law also provides that you and your husband or wife have an equal right to stay in the family home. If you separate, you will have to decide who will continue to live there.

In addition, Ontario’s family laws provide that you may be entitled to financial support for yourself and your children when your marriage ends.

Getting married results in your existing will being revoked, unless the will states that it was made in anticipation of the marriage. You may therefore need a new will after you marry. 

Couples who feel that the law does not suit the kind of relationship they have can makeother arrangements in a marriage contract.

Marriage contracts are very important legal documents. You should think carefully about yourdecision. Speak to a lawyer and exchange financial information before signing amarriage contract.

In amarriage contract you can say what you expect from each other during your marriage. You can list property that you are bringing into the marriage and say how much it is worth and who owns it. You can say exactly how you will divide your property if your marriage ends. You do not have to divide your property equally. You can describe how support payments will be made if your marriage ends. You can also make plans for the education and religious upbringing of your children, even if they are not yet born.

There are some things you cannot put in your marriage contract. You cannot make promises about custody and access arrangementsfor your children if your marriage breaks down. You cannot change the law that says each spouse has an equal right to live in their home.

We are already married and do not have a marriage contract. Now we think it might be a good idea to have one. Is it too late?

 

No, it’s not too late. You can sign a marriage contract after you are married. Remember that it must be in writing and signed by you and your spouse in front of a witness who must also sign the contract. If you write your contract yourselves, each of you should have your own lawyer look it over before you sign it.

I am getting married in a few months. I don’t own a lot but I do have the china set my mother got when she was married. It is worth about $2,000. When I marry, does the china set become my husband’s too?

No. The china is your property. If your marriage ends, you can keep the china. But if the china has increased in value when your marriage ends, you and your spouse will share the increase in value.

If you have a marriage contract, it could say that the china is your property and that any increase in the value of the china during your marriage will not be shared with your spouse if your marriage ends.