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An Introduction to Family Law in Ontario

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Domestic contracts

You and your spouse can make a written agreement about your relationship.

A written agreement between common-law spouses is called a cohabitation agreement, and one between married spouses is called a marriage contract. Both are examples of what is called a domestic contract.

Marriage contracts and cohabitation agreements can deal with how you divide property and pay spousal support if your relationship ends. But they cannot deal with issues about children. For example, they cannot say what your parenting plan will be or who will pay child support.

Issues about children can only be decided when you separate.

A separation agreement is another kind of domestic contract. It can deal with plans for your children, as well as property division and spousal support. See the section Separation agreement.

You can make a domestic contract at any time, for example, before or after you get married or start to live together. Or before or after you separate.

Before signing a domestic contract, you and your spouse should each:

  • understand the agreement
  • review the agreement with your own lawyer
  • make a complete and detailed statement of your financial situation

You do not need a lawyer to make a domestic contract. But it is a good idea to get your own legal advice before signing one. You and your spouse cannot get advice from the same lawyer.